Ice dynamic, climate and glacier hydrology around one of the world´s fastest glaciers, Jakobshavn Isbræ, West Greenland
Leaders: Henrik Højmark Thomsen, Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), Niels Reeh, Ørsted-DTU, Technical University of Denmark
Purpose: The excursion will give the participants an experience of different glacial environments along the margin of the Greenland ice sheet near the town Ilulissat in West Greenland. They will visit one of the world´s fastest glaciers - the Jakobshavn Isbræ (Sermeq Kujalleq) which is draining about 7% of the ice sheet, as well as a quit sector of the ice sheet at Paakitsoq, where intensive palaeoenvironmental and glacier hydrological studies have been made. Jakobshavn Isbræ has retreated 26 km from 1850 to 1960 and was stable for around 30 years with a mean ice velocity of 7 km/yr and an annual calf ice production around 35 km3. In 2002 the outer floating part of the glacier broke up and the margin retreated another 12 km with a speed-up of the ice velocity to 12.6 km/yr in 2003. The spectacular icebergs are packed in the 40 km long Ilulissat Icefjord, which was included on UNESCO´s World Heritage List in 2004. At Paakitsoq the participants will visit an ice margin location, where oxygen-18 and atmospheric gas records have successfully been retrieved from surface ice for palaeoenvironmental studies as well as a location where supra- and subglacial drainage conditions have been mapped over a large sector of the ice sheet in connection with hydroelectric investigations. The participants will experience the environment of a large fast-flowing glacier which has a potential to respond quickly to a changing climate and get insight into extraction of palaeoenvironmental data from the easily accessible surface ice and meltwater drainage from a large ice sheet.