Rapid mapping of moving Glaciers

Responsible for the 10% of Greenland icebergs, the Jakobshavn Glacier is one of the largest outlet glaciers in the world. According to recent scientific studies it is also one of the fastest moving glaciers on Earth, Its speed can in fact reach on average up to 40 meters per day.

Aerial Image of the glacier (Courtesy of EGU Media Library)

Following the global warming effects, the ice stream of the glacier has accelerated in the last years nearly doubling the ice flow from land into the Atlantic Ocean.

As such, it increased the rate of sea level rise by about 0.06 millimetres per year, or around 4% of the 20th century rate of global sea level rise.

Sentinel-2 True Color image of the Jakobshavn Glacier located on western coast of Greenland

Such extraordinary river of ice 60 Km long, can be seen in the following animation made using Copernicus Sentinel-2 images acquired in a period of only seven months, from February to September 2017. The flux of ice is continuously draining the Greenland Ice Sheet feeding the calving of dozens of icebergs inside the fjord.

Seven months of Sentinel-2 cloud free images over Jakobshavn squeezed in 3 seconds of animation.

Jakobshavn Glacier is also blamed for having produced the most infamous iceberg on history, the one that sank the Titanic in spring 1912.

The sinking of the Titanic depicted in the Willy Stöwer painting

Nowadays fortunately icebergs are constantly monitored and catalogued by satellite and the Copernicus Marine Service exploits both Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 data images to monitor icebergs drift across the ocean in order to ensure a safe navigation along the main Atlantic routes.


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