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New Study: Greenland’s Largest Glacier Has Rapidly Thickened Since 2016…Fueled By 1.5°C Regional Ocean Cooling

By Kenneth Richard

Greenland’s largest glacier (Jakobshavn) has quite abruptly thickened since 2016. The thickening has been so profound the ice elevations are nearly back to 2010-2011 levels. The nearby ocean has cooled ~1.5°C – a return to 1980s-era temperatures.

The world’s glaciers have not been following along with the CO2-driven catastrophic melting narrative.


For example, in a study of 50 Alaskan glaciers for the warming period between 1972-2012, researchers (McNabb and Hock, 2014) found there was
“…no corresponding change in the number of glaciers retreating nor do we see corresponding acceleration of retreat rates. To the contrary, many glaciers in the region have advanced…”
Image Source: McNabb and Hock, 2014


In the Southern Hemisphere, an accumulating collection of (29) referenced studies (Lüning et al.,2019) indicate that not only has the Southern Ocean, Antarctic Peninsula, West Antarctica, and East Antarctica been cooling or not warming in recent decades, but many regional glaciers have begun advancing again.

Image Source: Lüning et al.,2019


Greenland’s ice sheet mass losses have significantly decelerated since 2013 – a reversal from the rapid retreat from the 1990s to 2012 driven by cloud forcing and the NAO (Ruan et al., 2019).

The 47 largest Greenland glaciers also experienced a “relatively stable” period of rather insignificant retreat from 2013 to 2018 (Andersen et al., 2019).

Only 21 of the 47 Greenland glaciers retreated in 2018, 12 advanced, and the other 14 showed no trends in either direction (Polar Portal, 2019).

Greenland’s largest glacier, Jakobshavn, earned headlines in 2019 for it’s surprising and non-predicted rapid thickening in recent years.

Image Source: BBC, 2019

New Study

A new study (Joughin et al., 2020) finds that the Jakobshavn glacier thickening that began in 2016 has continued apace, and ice elevation has now nearly completely returned to 2010/2011 amplitudes.

The authors attribute much of the glacier advance to the rapid 1.5°C ocean cooling impacting the region in recent years.

Ocean temperatures have returned to 1980s-era levels.

Image Source: Joughin et al., 2020