Phoenix Glacier relic ice

I’m in South Greenland drilling low tech metal pipes into the ice to calibrate high tech satellite, aircraft, and model data.

Flying over this landscape, it’s stunning how much the ice has retreated. Annual (let alone summer) average air temperatures at nearby Narsarsuaq have been above the melting point 39 of the past 51 years [1]. Unequivocal evidence of rapid ice retreat; relic stranded ice [2] was what led Denmark to support scientists at GEUS to install modern ice monitoring measurements in 2001. The observations are now called “Q transect” as part of the PROMICE network around Greenland.

I was stunned to witness (and photograph) more stranded relic ice on the sides of the glacier. Notice how no ice is feeding Phoenix’s wings from upstream.

The glacier’s current shape resembles a Phoenix, with wings (relic ice) outstretched to the front, and the phoenix has a demise, like this glacier.

We’re here surveying the damage with Shane Smith of Vice media for an up coming spot on HBO.

Vice supported the installation of six ablation stakes at elevations between 390 and 1100 m on the Qassimiut lobe of the ice sheet, hence the name Q transect.

 The stakes are carefully tied into a coordinate system using the antenna at the upper right recording the site elevation and horizontal position by differential GPS.

This Phoenix should of course rise again, but not until after another ice age. When that happens? It’s gonna be a while.

Follow @PromiceGL on Twitter.

Work Cited

  • [1] Cappelen, John, DMI Monthly Climate Data Collection 1768-2010, Denmark, The Faroe Islands and Greenland. Dansk Meteorol. Inst. Tech. Rap., 11-05, 54 pp, 2011.
  • [2] Podlech; Steffen, Christoph Mayer, Carl Egede Bøggild, Glacier Retreat, Mass-Balance and Thinning: Sermilik Glacier, South Greenland, Geografiska Annaler: Series A, Physical Geography, Volume 86, Issue 4, pages 305–317, December 2004, DOI: 10.1111/j.0435-3676.2004.00234.x

One Response to “Phoenix Glacier relic ice”

  1. Mauri Pelto Says:

    Looks like a few spots in the Qaleraliq area off Tasermuit fjord, with those relict ice pathches.