July 1, 2019
Fork Beard (F) and Nerutusoq Glacier (N) Baffin Island on June 1, 2019, June 18, 2019 Sentinel images and June 30 Landsat image. Purple dots indicate the snowline.
Fork Beard Glacier (F) is an outlet glacier of a mountain glacier complex just southeast of Penny Ice Cap on Baffin Island. Nerutusoq Glacier (N) also drains from the same complex. Here we examine the rapid rise of the snowline from June 1 to June 30, 2019. This 30-day period at nearby Pangnirtung featured four days with record temperatures for that date June 5 (15.1), June 11 (13.5) and June 12 (13.6), and June 19 (14.4). There were 14 days with a maximum temperature above 10 C. Landsat images are utilized to identify the retreat and separation of Fork Beard Glacier and Nerutusoq Glacier and several neighboring glaciers from 1990-2018. Gardner et al (2012) and Sharp et al (2011) both note that the first decade of the 21st century had the warmest temperatures of the last 50 years in the region, the period of record, and they identified that the mass loss had doubled in the last decade versus the previous four for Baffin Island. This has led to fragmentation of Coutts Ice Cap and loss of snowpack at Borden Ice Cap and disappearance of ice caps near Clephane Bay all on Baffin Island.
In late July of 1990 Fork Beard Glacier terminates near the top of a steep slope at 650 m, red arrow. At Point 1 and 2 tributaries connect to the main stem of two unnamed glaciers adjacent to Fork Beard Glacier. Nerutusoq Glacier terminates at 700 m. The snowline in mid August of 1990 on Fork Beard and its adjacent glacier to the southeast is 1050 m. In 2000 at Point 1 and 2 the tributaries still connect. The terminus of Fork Beard and Nerutusoq Glacier have retreated 200-300 m since 1990. The snowline in this mid-August image is at 1150 m. By 2018 Fork Beard Glacier has retreated 600-700 m and now terminates at an elevation of 750 m. Nerutusoq Glacier has retreated 600-700 m and now terminates at an elevation of 825 m. In this late July image the snowline on Fork Beard and the adjacent glacier to the southeast (S) is again at 1050 m. At Point 1 and 2 tributary glaciers have separated from the main stem glaciers. In Sentinel images from 2019 the snowline on Fork Beard Glacier and Nerutusoq Glacier is at 800 m on June 1 rising rapidly to 1100 m by June 18. On June 30 the snowline has risen to 1150 m. from This is a higher elevation than typically seen a month or two months later in the melt season during other years. The retreat in the region is driven by warmer temperatures and rising snowlines. The glacier of Baffin Island are already primed for another poor year in 2019.
Fork Beard (F) and Nerutusoq Glacier (N), Baffin Island in 1990 and 2018 Landsat images. Red arrow indicates 1990 terminus, yellow arrow 2018 terminus, purple dots the snowline.
Map of the region indicating flow on Fork Beard, Nerutusoq and two unnamed adjacent glaciers. Red arrow indicates 1990 terminus of Fork Beard at top of steep bench.
Fork Beard (F) and Nerutusoq Glacier (N), Baffin Island in 2000 Landsat image. Red arrow indicates 1990 terminus and purple dots the snowline.