The Greenland ice sheet

The Greenland ice sheet is the largest ice sheet in the northern hemisphere. In recent years, the ice sheet and the surrounding glaciers have changed dramatically in mass and size due to climate changes.

Collecting information about the state of the Greenland ice sheet is not easy. The harsh climate, the inaccessible terrain, the logistic challenges and the enormous size of the ice sheet mean that we have to use a combination of in-situ, airborne and satellite measurements as well as model calculations to describe and analyse the state of the ice sheet and its surrounding glaciers.

GEUS has experience from more than 40 years of glaciological field work and analysis. We are responsible for the monitoring of the mass loss from the Greenland ice sheet in the Programme for Monitoring of the Greenland Ice Sheet (PROMICE), and in that connection we operate an extensive network of weather stations on the ice sheet (see below).

Through PROMICE, GEUS puts the collected knowledge and all data about the Greenland ice sheet and its surrounding glaciers at the disposal of the Danish and global public. The programme is also a source of communicaton and learning.

A typical automatic weather station from PROMICE. The station comprices equipment for measurements and other functions: 1. Short-wave and long-wave radiation (radiometer). 2. Station tilt (inclinometer). 3. Satellite communication. 4. Wind speed and direction (anemometer). 5. Snow height (sonic height rangers). 6. Air temperature and relative humidity. 7. Melting pressure sensor (ablation). 8. Solar panels. 9. Control unit (incl. air pressure and ice movement). 10. Batteries. 11: Ice temperature in the upper layers.

We work with monitoring, research, servicing and advising of the authorities in the following areas:

The many different observations from GEUS give a unique possibility to increase the understanding of the processes leading to and the extent of the mass loss from the Greenland ice sheet specifically and from glaciers in general. This contributes to the assessment of global climate changes as well as how individual areas are affected by the climate change. Through the Polar Portal, GEUS, among others, puts their knowledge about the Greenland ice sheet and sea ice at all interested parties’ disposal. The portals main objective is to make it possible for the public to get an insight into the Danish monitoring of the ice