The Kangerlussuaq Glacier, one of Greenland's largest tidewater outlet glaciers, is pictured in this false-color image captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission. Meaning large fjord in Greenlandic, the Kangerlussuaq Glacier flows into the head of the Kangerlussuaq Fjord, the second largest fjord in east Greenland.
This Sentinel-1 radar image combines three separate acquisitions during the summer of 2021 and shows visible changes on the ground and sea surface between three acquisition dates: June 4, June 16 and June 28. The array of colors represents the seasonal retreat of ice during this time.
At the top of the image, stable ice can be seen in white and is present in all three radar acquisitions. Ice and snow visible only in the early summer acquisitions can be seen in bright yellow and are not present in the last acquisition as they have melted by this time. The different shades of red highlight ice and snow detected only in the first acquisition captured on June 4. Colors on the sea surface vary owing to surface currents and sea ice dynamics.
Research using satellite imagery suggests that since 2017, Kangerlussuaq has entered a new phase of rapid retreat and acceleration, and its ice front is now at its most-retreated position since the early 20th century.
Using data from ESA's CryoSat mission, research shows that extreme ice melting events in Greenland have become more frequent and intense during the last 40 years, raising sea levels and the risk of flooding worldwide.
Image Credit: Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2021), processed by ESA