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Tuesday 6 February 2024

A very weird glacier in North Greenland


I came across this oblique photo in an obscure article about mineral deposits in North Greenland, and I have to say I am very flummoxed by it.  This is a part of JP Koch Fjord, in the far north, on the edge of Peary Land.

It all looks perfectly straightforward as a typical North Greenland landscape of glaciers and plateau ice caps, but what are we to make of the glacier to the right of centre, in the photo?  The cliffs are here up to 1200m high, and the small glacier descending to the fjord just on the front edge of a big fjord glacier seems, quite literally, to be falling off a cliff.  There even seems to be an overhang in the cliffs......  There is no reconstituted glacier here, and somehow or other the glacier falls all the way down to the bottom of the cliff like a petrified waterfall, with a chaotic jumble of smashed ice blocks held in position by the sea ice in the fjord.

The little glacier has no valley of its own.  Does this mean that it is very new?  Or is this just a sign that in this high Arctic environment the ice has no erosive capacity, and simply slides across a permafrost surface and then tumbles over this massive rock cliff?  Or is the ice frozen onto its bed, and moves entirely by internal deformation?

Now that is something I would love to see before I die, but I don't suppose I shall get the chance.  So much to see and so little time.......

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