Skip to main content

Greenland Ice Shelves and Ice Tongues

  • Chapter
  • First Online:
Arctic Ice Shelves and Ice Islands

Part of the book series: Springer Polar Sciences ((SPPS))

Abstract

This chapter focuses on a review of the glaciers on north and northeast Greenland that terminate in fiords with long glacier tongues and floating, ice-shelf-like margins. There is some debate as to whether these glacier tongues can be classified as a traditional ice shelf, so the relevant literature and physical properties are reviewed. There exists a difference between: (1) Floating glaciers in northern Greenland (>77°N) which experience bottom melting as their dominant ablation mechanism and calve relatively thin, but large (km-sized) tabular icebergs (‘ice islands’), and (2) Grounded glaciers further south (<77°N), where iceberg calving provides the dominant ablation mechanism. The relatively smaller iceberg discharge in northern Greenland is closely related to the occurrence of extended floating glacier sections, allowing bottom melting estimated at up to 10 m year−1 for locations such as Petermann Glacier. A case study is described of the physical characteristics and historical changes of Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden Glacier, NE Greenland, based on field and remote sensing studies.

Niels Reeh passed away on May 26, 2009. This chapter is based on an original manuscript by Niels Reeh, modified for clarity by Luke Copland

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Chapter
USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
eBook
USD 149.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 199.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD 199.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • Ahnert, F. (1963). The terminal disintegration of Steensby Gletscher, North Greenland. Journal of Glaciology, 4(35), 537–545.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Assur, A. (1956). Airfields on floating ice sheets for routine and emergency operations (Sipre Report, 36). Wilmette: Snow Ice and Permafrost Research Establishment, Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bennike, O., & Weidick, A. (1999). Observations on the Quaternary geology around Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden, eastern North Greenland. Geology of Greenland Survey Bulletin, 183, 57–60.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bennike, O., & Weidick, A. (2001). Late Quaternary history around Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden and Jøkelbugten, North-East Greenland. Boreas, 30, 205–227.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bourke, R. H., Newton, J. L., Paquette, R. G., & Tunnicliffe, M. D. (1987). Circulation and water masses of the East Greenland Shelf. Journal of Geophysical Research, 92(C7), 6729–6740.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Budéus, G., & Schneider, W. (1995). On the hydrography of the Northeast Water Polynya. Journal of Geophysical Research, 100(C3), 4287–4299.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Christensen, E. L., Gundestrup, N., Nilsson, E., & Gudmandsen, P. (1970, January). Radio glaciology - 60 MHz radar. Electromagnetics Institute, Technical University of Denmark, R 77, pp. 82.

    Google Scholar 

  • Christensen, E. L., Reeh, N., Forsberg, R., Jørgensen, J. H., Skov, N., & Woelders, K. (2000). A low-cost glacier-mapping system. Journal of Glaciology, 46(154), 531–537.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chuah, T. S., Gogineni, S. P., Allen, C., & Wohletz, B. (1996). Radar thickness measurements over the northern part of the Greenland Ice Sheet (Radar Systems and Remote Sensing Laboratory Technical Report 10470-3). University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas.

    Google Scholar 

  • Davies, W. E., & Krinsley, D. B. (1962). The recent regime of the ice cap margin in North Greenland. International Association of Hydrological Sciences, 58, 119–130.

    Google Scholar 

  • Davis, C. H., Kluever, C. A., & Haines, B. J. (1998). Elevation change of the Southern Greenland Ice Sheet. Science, 279, 2086–2088.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ekholm, S. (1996). A full coverage, high-resolution, topographic model of Greenland computed from a variety of digital elevation data. Journal of Geophysical Research, 101(B10), 21961–21972.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Funder, S., Hjort, C., Landvik, J. Y., Nam, S., Reeh, N., & Stein, R. (1998). History of a stable ice margin - East Greenland during the middle and upper Pleistocene. Quaternary Science Reviews, 17, 77–123.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Higgins, A. K. (1988). Glacier velocities in North and North-East Greenland. Rapport Grønlands Geologiske Undersøgelse, 140, 102–105.

    Google Scholar 

  • Higgins, A. K. (1989). North Greenland ice islands. Polar Record, 25(154), 207–212.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Higgins, A. K. (1991). North Greenland glacier velocities and calf ice production. Polarforschung, 60(1), 1–23.

    Google Scholar 

  • Higgins, A. K., & Weidick, A. (1990). The world’s northernmost surging glacier? Zeitschrift für Gletscherkunde und Glazialgeologie, 24, 111–123.

    Google Scholar 

  • Joughin, I., Kwok, R., & Fahnestock, M. (1996a). Estimation of ice-sheet motion using satellite radar interferometry: Method and error analysis with application to Humboldt Glacier, Greenland. Journal of Glaciology, 42(142), 564–575.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Joughin, I., Tulaczyk, S., Fahnestock, M., & Kwok, R. (1996b). A mini-surge on the Ryder Glacier, Greenland, observed by satellite radar interferometry. Science, 274(5285), 228–230.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kelly, M., & Bennike, O. (1992). Quaternary geology of western and central North Greenland. Rapp. Grønlands geol. Unders., 153, 1–34.

    Google Scholar 

  • Knuth, E. (1942). Dansk Nordøstgrønlands Ekspedition 1938-39. Report on the expedition and subsequent work at the Mørkefjord Station. Meddelelser om Grønland, 126(1), 1–159.

    Google Scholar 

  • Koch, L. (1928). Contributions to the glaciology of North Greenland. Meddelelser om Grønland, 45, 181–464.

    Google Scholar 

  • Koch, L. (1945). The East Greenland ice. Meddelelser om Grønland, 130(3), 1–373.

    Google Scholar 

  • Koch, I. P., & Wegener, A. (1912). Die glaziologischen Beobachtungen der Danmark-Expedition. Meddelelser om Grønland, 46(1), 1–77.

    Google Scholar 

  • Krabill, W., Thomas, R., Jezek, K., Kuivinen, K., & Minazade, S. (1995). Greenland ice thickness changes measured by laser altimetry. Geophysical Research Letters, 22(17), 2341–2344.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mayer, C., Reeh, N., Jung-Rothenhäusler, F., Huybrechts, P., & Oerter, H. (2000). The subglacial cavity and implied dynamics under Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden Glacier, NE-Greenland. Geophysical Research Letters, 27(15), 2289–2292.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mikkelsen, E. (1922). Alabama-Expeditionen. Til Grønlands Nordøstkyst 1909-1912. Meddelelser om Grønland, 52, 1–142.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mohr, J. J., Reeh, N., & Madsen, S. N. (1998). Three dimensional glacial flow and surface elevations measured with radar interferometry. Nature, 391, 273–276.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ohmura, A. (1987). New temperature distribution maps for Greenland. Zeitschrift für Gletscherkunde und Glazialgeologie, 23(1), 1–45.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ohmura, A., & Reeh, N. (1991). New precipitation and accumulation maps for Greenland. Journal of Glaciology, 37(125), 140–148.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Olesen, O. B., Thomsen, H. H., Reeh, N., & Bøggild, C. E. (1998). Attempts at measuring bottom melting at Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden Glacier. In J. A. Dowdeswell, E. K. Dowdeswell & J. O. Hagen (Eds.), International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), Arctic Glaciers Working Group Meeting and Workshop on Arctic Glaciers Mass Balance held at Gregynog, Wales 29–30 January 1998. Centre for Glaciology Report 98–01. Prifysgol Cymru Aberystwyth, The University of Wales, May 1998. 5-page abstract.

    Google Scholar 

  • Reeh, N. (1991). Parameterization of melt rate and surface temperature on the Greenland Ice Sheet. Polarforschung, 59(3), 113–128.

    Google Scholar 

  • Reeh, N. (1994). Calving from Greenland glaciers: Observations, balance estimates of calving rates, calving laws. In N. Reeh (Ed.), Report on the workshop on the calving rate of West Greenland glaciers in response to climate change (p. 85–102). Copenhagen: Danish Polar Center.

    Google Scholar 

  • Reeh, N. (1999). Mass balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet: Can modern observation methods reduce the uncertainty? In Proceedings from the workshop on methods of mass balance measurements and modelling, Tarfala Sweden, August 10–12, 1998. Geografiska Annaler, 81A(4), 735–742.

    Google Scholar 

  • Reeh, N. (2004). Holocene climate and fjord glaciation in Northeast Greenland: Implications for IRD-deposition in the North Atlantic. Sedimentary Geology, 165(3–4), 333–342.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Reeh, N., Bøggild, C. E., & Oerter, H. (1994). Surge of Storstrømmen, a large outlet glacier from the Greenland Ice Sheet. Rapport. Grønlands Geologiske Undersøgelse, 162, 201–209.

    Google Scholar 

  • Reeh, N., Mayer, C., Miller, H., Thomsen, H. H., & Weidick, A. (1999a). Climate control on fjord glaciations in Greenland: Implications for IRD-deposition in the sea. Geophysical Research Letters, 26(8), 1039–1042.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Reeh, N., Thomsen, H. H., Higgins, A. K., Weidick, A., & Starzer, W. (1999b). Stability conditions of North-East Greenland floating ice margins. In Climate change and sea level: final report of work undertaken for the Commission of the European Communities under contract No. ENV4-CT95–0124, 1st March 1996–28th February 1999. Report No. 9 from the Danish Polar Center.

    Google Scholar 

  • Reeh, N., Mayer, C., Olesen, O. B., Christensen, E. L., & Thomsen, H. H. (2000). Tidal movement of Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden Glacier, Northeast Greenland: Observations and modelling. Annals of Glaciology, 31, 111–117.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Reeh, N., Thomsen, H. H., Higgins, A. K., & Weidick, A. (2001). Sea ice and the stability of North and Northeast Greenland floating glaciers. Annals of Glaciology, 33, 474–480.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Reeh, N., Christensen, E. L., Mayer, C., & Olesen, O. B. (2003). Tidal bending of glaciers: A linear visco-elastic approach. Annals of Glaciology, 37, 83–89.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Reeh, N., Christensen, E. L., Thomsen, H. H., Forsberg, R., & Rignot, E. (2008). Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden Glacier, northeast Greenland: report on data collection, processing, and analysis. Lyngby, Denmark: National Space Institute, Technical University of Denmark.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rignot, E. (1996). Tidal motion, ice velocity and melt rate of Petermann Gletscher, Greenland, measured from radar interferometry. Journal of Glaciology, 42(142), 476–485.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rignot, E., Gogineni, S. P., Krabill, W. B., & Ekholm, S. (1997). North and Northeast Greenland ice discharge from satellite radar interferometry. Science, 276(5314), 934–937.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rignot, E., Gogineni, S. P., Joughin, I., & Krabill, W. B. (2001). Contribution to the glaciology of northern Greenland from satellite radar interferometry. Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres, 106(D24), 34007–34019.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schneider, W., & Budéus, G. (1995). On the generation of the Northeast Water Polynya. Journal of Geophysical Research Oceans, 100(C3), 4269–4286.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schneider, W., & Budéus, G. (1997). A note on Norske Ø Ice Barrier (Northeast Greenland), viewed by Landsat 5 TM. Journal of Marine Systems, 10(1–4), 99–106.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Steffen, K., Abdalati, W., & Stroeve, J. (1993). Climate sensitivity studies of the Greenland Ice Sheet using satellite AVHRR, SMMR, SSM/I and in situ data. Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics, 51, 239–258.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Thomsen, H. H., Reeh, N., Olesen, O. B., Starzer, W., & Bøggild, C. E. (1999). Bottom melting, surface mass balance and dynamics of floating North-East Greenland ice tongues. In Climate change and sea level. Final report of work undertaken for the Commission of the European Communities under contract No. ENV4-CT95–0124. Report No. 8 from the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wadhams, P. (1981). The ice cover in the Greenland and Norwegian seas. Reviews of Geophysics and Space Physics, 19(3), 345–393.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Weidick, A. (1995). Greenland. In R. S. Williams & J. C. Ferrigno (Eds.), Satellite image atlas of glaciers of the world (U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1386C). C1–C105. Denver, Colorado, USA: U.S. Geological Survey

    Google Scholar 

  • Weidick, A., Andreasen, C., Oerter, H., & Reeh, N. (1996). Neoglacial glacier changes around Storstrømmen, North-East Greenland. Polarforschung, 64(3), 95–108.

    Google Scholar 

  • Zwally, H. J., & Giovinetto, M. B. (1995). Accumulation in Antarctica and Greenland derived from passive-microwave data: A comparison with contoured compilations. Annals of Glaciology, 21, 123–130.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2017 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Reeh, N. (2017). Greenland Ice Shelves and Ice Tongues. In: Copland, L., Mueller, D. (eds) Arctic Ice Shelves and Ice Islands. Springer Polar Sciences. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-1101-0_4

Download citation

Publish with us

Policies and ethics