Science Spotlight

Station KAGA

Researcher: Shfaqat Abbas Khan
National Space Institute
DTU Space

My work is a combination of Geodesy and Glaciology. My goal is to understand the processes causing retreat and thinning of glaciers in Greenland.

Photo of Kangia North GPS station Credit: Thomas Nylen (UNAVCO).

Name: Kangia North
State: Greenland
Country: Greenland
Elevation: 149.9 m
Lat/Long:  69.2223 / -49.8146

Retreat and Thinning of Greenland's Largest Outlet Glacier

GPS measurements are being made throughout Greenland by geoscientists (Figure 1). The GPS data from KAGA, on the west coast of Greenland, are highlighted here. These data reveal sustained ice loss from one of the largest outlet glaciers in Greenland. The GPS site is located only ~1 km from the calving front of the Jakobshavn glacier and is strongly affected by present-day unloading of ice resulting in both horizontal and vertical deformation of the crust (Figure 2). The Jakobshavn glacier has been losing ice at an average rate of ~30 Gigatons/yr from 2006 to 2011 (Figure 3), which is approximately 10% of Greenland's total ice loss. However, in recent years the mass loss has increased to almost 40 Gigatons/yr due to long and warm melt seasons. The two periods with largest year-to-year vertical displacement (Figure 4) coincide with the record high surface melting in 2010 and 2012.

In general, the observed uplift at KAGA agrees very well with the predicted uplift from other sensors, such as NASA's Airborne Topographic Mapper and ICESat.

Figure 1. Uplift rates measured by GPS in Greenland.

Figure 3. Surface elevation change rates of Jakobshavn Isbræ from 2006 to 2011.

Figure 5. Making scientific measurements in Greenland is a logistical challenge, often requiring the use of a helicopter.


Figure 2. Vertical position changes measured at KAGA.

Figure 4. Yearly uplift rates at KAGA.

Last modified: 2019-12-26  16:24:55  America/Denver  


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