Abstract

This study identifies 75 surge-type glaciers on Disko Island (Qeqertarsuaq), central West Greenland, using old maps, aerial photographs, satellite imageries and field observations. The surge-type glaciers comprise about 30% of the glaciers larger than 1 km2 and 59% of the glacierised area. The duration of the surge cycle is at least 100 years or more, which is relatively long compared to surge clusters in other parts of the world. The surge events are very dramatic and include some of the longest frontal advances ever recorded such as 10.5 km advance of Kuannersuit Glacier in 1995-98, where the glacier advance velocity reached at least 70 m d-1. The surge-type glaciers are responsible for valley floor geomorphology such as complex moraine systems and extensive dead ice areas. This implies that glacier surging has to be considered when glacier recession is related to climatic fluctuations.

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