November 22, 2013

Rink Gletscher, Retreat NW Greenland

Posted by Mauri Pelto

Rink Gletscher is just east of Docker Smith Glacier in Melville Bay Northwest Greenland. It should not be confused with the large and more famous Rinks Isbrae 5 degrees latitude south. This is a minor outlet glacier with a 4 km wide calving front.docker smith area  map
McFadden et al (2011) noted that several larger neighboring glaciers in Northwest Greenland Sverdrups, Steenstrup, Upernavik, and Umiamako underwent signficant retreat, acceleration and thinning between 2002 and 2007. Steenstrup was the focus of a recent post where retreat of up to 5 kilometers since 1999 had led to new island formation. Howat and Eddy (2011) observed that 98% of glaciers in northwest Greenland retreated from 2000-2010 with a mean rate of 127 m per year. Van As (2011) has noted that net annual ablation after 2000 has been consistently higher in the region. Enderlin and Howat (2013) note that basal melting is 0.3-0.5 m day in this region, much higher than surface ablation. Here we again utilize the exceptional Landsat record of the changing earth surface with imagery from 1999, 2001. 2012 and 2013. In 1999 the glacier extends to the orange arrow on the west margin and a small peninsula, yellow arrow, on the east margin. A nunatak is located 3.5 to 4 km behind the calving front, pink arrow. By 2001 retreat of the western margin is evident, but only minor retreat in the east. By 2012 the glacier has retreated back to the nunatak with the greatest retreat in the center of the glacier and less at both margins. By 2013 it is evident that the island by the yellow arrow, has been freed from the ice sheet. The center of the glacier has retreated 3.5 to 4 km to the nunatak, pink arrow. Retreat is 3 km along the eastern margin and approximately 1.8 km on the western margin. A series of red arrows indicates a point where the surface slope of the glacier increases, resulting in greater crevassing. This reflects a bedrock step in elevation as well. The recent retreat has largely been via calving. This retreat can rapidly continue back to the red arrows, at that point water depths will be greatly reduced as will calving. The retreat here is coincident with the pattern of retreat and new island generation seen at Kong Oscar Glacier, Alison Glacier and Upernavik Glacier.
rink glacier 1999
1999 Landsat Image

rink glacier 2001
2001 Landsat Image

Rink glacier 2012
2012 Landsat image

Rink glacier 2013
2013 Landsat image