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Jakobshavn Isbrae Glacier bucks the trend

14 May 2019

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Our planet works in mysterious ways. We are all used to hearing about the world's ice being the first casualty of climate change and, indeed, it is declining fast. However, recent findings show that one glacier is not conforming to the norm – it's actually been flowing more slowly and getting thicker.

In recent years, Greenland has been losing more ice through the Jakobshavn Isbrae Glacier than from anywhere else on this huge ice sheet.

Various types of satellite data have been used to understand and monitor the glacier's flow over the last 20 years, in particular, through ESA's Climate Change Initiative. This revealed that the glacier was flowing at its fastest and losing the most ice in 2012–13. In places, the main trunk of the glacier was deflating by 10 m a year as it adjusted dynamically to ice loss and melting.

Complementary information from the European Commission's Copernicus Sentinel-1 radar mission and Sentinel-2 optical mission along with ESA's CryoSat satellite are currently being used to keep a close eye on this critical glacier.

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