Ice fronts have retreated, rocky peaks are more exposed, fewer icebergs drift to the ocean: the branching network of glaciers that empty into Greenland’s Sermilik Fjord has changed significantly in the last half century. Comparing Landsat images from 1972 and 2019, those changes and more come into view.
The glaciers appear brownish grey in this true-color Landsat 8 satellite image from Aug. 12, 2019. The color indicates that the surface has melted, a process that concentrates dust and rock particles and leads to a darker recrystallized ice sheet surface.
The darker melt surface in 2019 extends much farther onto the ice sheet than it did in 1972, when the first Landsat satellite gathered data on the area, said Christopher Shuman, a glaciologist with the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Landsat is a joint mission of NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey.