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21st century response of Petermann Glacier, northwest Greenland to ice shelf loss

Hill, E.A.; Gudmundsson, G.H.; Carr, J.R.; Stokes, C.R.; King, H.M.

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E.A. Hill

G.H. Gudmundsson

J.R. Carr

H.M. King


Ice shelves restrain flow from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. Climate-ocean warming could force thinning or collapse of floating ice shelves and subsequently accelerate flow, increase ice discharge and raise global mean sea levels. Petermann Glacier (PG), northwest Greenland, recently lost large sections of its ice shelf, but its response to total ice shelf loss in the future remains uncertain. Here, we use the ice flow model Úa to assess the sensitivity of PG to changes in ice shelf extent, and to estimate the resultant loss of grounded ice and contribution to sea level rise. Our results have shown that under several scenarios of ice shelf thinning and retreat, removal of the shelf will not contribute substantially to global mean sea level (<1 mm). We hypothesize that grounded ice loss was limited by the stabilization of the grounding line at a topographic high ~12 km inland of its current grounding line position. Further inland, the likelihood of a narrow fjord that slopes seawards suggests that PG is likely to remain insensitive to terminus changes in the near future.


Hill, E., Gudmundsson, G., Carr, J., Stokes, C., & King, H. (2021). 21st century response of Petermann Glacier, northwest Greenland to ice shelf loss. Journal of Glaciology, 67(261), 147-157.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 5, 2020
Online Publication Date Dec 2, 2020
Publication Date 2021-02
Deposit Date Nov 5, 2020
Publicly Available Date Jun 3, 2021
Journal Journal of Glaciology
Print ISSN 0022-1430
Electronic ISSN 1727-5652
Publisher International Glaciological Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 67
Issue 261
Pages 147-157


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Copyright Statement
Copyright &copy; The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press<br /> <br /> This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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