Sharply increased mass loss from glaciers and ice caps in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago

Mountain glaciers and ice caps are contributing significantly to present rates of sea level rise and will continue to do so over the next century and beyond1–5. The CanadianArcticArchipelago, located off the northwestern shore of Greenland, contains one-third of the global volume of land ice outside the ice sheets6, but its contribution to sea-level change remains largely unknown. Here we show that the Canadian Arctic Archipelago has recently lost 6167 gigatonnes per year (Gt yr21) of ice, contributing 0.1760.02 mmyr21 to sea-level rise. Our estimates are of regional mass changes for the ice caps and glaciers of the CanadianArcticArchipelago referring to the years 2004 to 2009 and are based on three independent approaches: surface mass-budget modelling plus an estimate of ice discharge (SMB1D), repeat satellite laser altimetry (ICESat) and repeat satellite gravimetry (GRACE). All three approaches show consistent and large mass-loss estimates. Between the periods 2004–2006 and 2007–2009, the rate of mass loss sharply increased from 3168Gtyr21 to 92612 Gt yr21 in direct response to warmer summer temperatures, to which rates of ice loss are highly sensitive (64614Gt yr21 per 1K increase). The duration of the study is too short to establish a longterm trend, but for 2007–2009, the increase in the rate of mass loss makes the Canadian Arctic Archipelago the single largest contributor to eustatic sea-level rise outside Greenland and Antarctica.

Details

Publication status:
Published
Author(s):
Authors: Gardner, A.S., Moholdt, G., Wouters, B., Wolken, G.J., Burgess, D.O., Sharp, M.J., Cogley, J.G., Braun, C., Labine, C.

Date:
1 January, 2011
Journal/Source:
Nature / 473
Page(s):
357-360
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
https://doi.org/10.1038/nature10089