December 14, 2014

East Qorqup Glacier Terminus Disintegration, Greenland

Posted by Mauri Pelto

qorqup sermia compare

Landsat comparison of Qorqup Glacier in 1993 and 2016.  The red arrows indicate the terminus position in 1993 and the yellow arrows the 2016 terminus. Upwelling at front at pink arrow in 2016.

Qorqup Glacier (Qooqqup) is in southern Greenland near Narsarsuaq. The glacier divides shortly above the terminus into an eastern and western glacier branch. Kuussuup Sermia is a distributary glacier of the Qorqup. Here we examine Landsat imagery from 1993 to 2014 and Google Earth imagery from 2005 and 2013. The eastern branch terminus is indicated by the red arrow.

qorqup sermia map-flow

Map of region and image indicating flow
A series of images from 1993 to 2014 indicate limited terminus change, the red arrow indicates the 1993 terminus position on each image. The main change was the minor retreat on the western side of the terminus between 1993 and 1997, where a 600 m wide and 600 m long area was lost. After 2010 the glacier retreated 750 m by 2014. However, in 2014 it is clear that the lower 3 km of the terminus is disintegrating. The disintegration is evident at the pink arrows, with both rifts and iceberg melange sections evident. The Google Earth imagery from 2005 and 2013 indicate a vast change in the character of this terminus reach. In 2005 the terminus is still at the same location, red arrow. The pink arrows indicate crevassing that indicates rapid glacier flow, there is no significant rifting or melange at that time. By 2013 the glacier has retreated from the red arrow at the 1993-2010 terminus position. More importantly each pink arrow indicates an substantial rift or ice melange. The glacier tongue is no longer in contact with the valley walls in its last two kilometers, three kilometers on the east side. There is also a large rift two kilometers from the ice front, indicating a location where the glacier will separate. This rift does penetrate to the water level. The retreat of this glacier is similar to that of Narssap Sermia and Qaleriq Glacier. The rifting leading to calving is what was observed on Petermann Glacier.
oorqup e sermia 1993
1993 Landsat image

oorqup e sermia 1997
1997 Landsat image

oorqup e sermia 2004
2004 Landsat image


oorqup e sermia 2014
2014 Landsat image

oorqup e sermia 2005
2005 Google Earth image

oorqup e sermia 2013
2013 Google Earth image