Greenland Mass Trends From Airborne and Satellite Altimetry During 2011–2020

Shfaqat A. Khan, Jonathan L. Bamber, Eric Rignot, Veit Helm, Andy Aschwanden, David M. Holland, Michiel van den Broeke, Michalea King, Brice Noël, Martin Truffer, Angelika Humbert, William Colgan, Saurabh Vijay, Peter Kuipers Munneke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We use satellite and airborne altimetry to estimate annual mass changes of the Greenland Ice Sheet. We estimate ice loss corresponding to a sea-level rise of 6.9 ± 0.4 mm from April 2011 to April 2020, with a highest annual ice loss rate of 1.4 mm/yr sea-level equivalent from April 2019 to April 2020. On a regional scale, our annual mass loss timeseries reveals 10–15 m/yr dynamic thickening at the terminus of Jakobshavn Isbræ from April 2016 to April 2018, followed by a return to dynamic thinning. We observe contrasting patterns of mass loss acceleration in different basins across the ice sheet and suggest that these spatiotemporal trends could be useful for calibrating and validating prognostic ice sheet models. In addition to resolving the spatial and temporal fingerprint of Greenland's recent ice loss, these mass loss grids are key for partitioning contemporary elastic vertical land motion from longer-term glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) trends at GPS stations around the ice sheet. Our ice-loss product results in a significantly different GIA interpretation from a previous ice-loss product.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2021JF006505
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • Greenland Ice Sheet
  • ice dynamics
  • mass loss
  • satellite altimetry
  • surface mass balance
  • vertical land motion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Geophysics


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