EGU22-1807, updated on 27 Mar 2022
EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Three-dimensional velocity variations due to ice mass changes in Greenland – Insights from a compressible glacial isostatic adjustment model

Rebekka Steffen1, Holger Steffen1, Pingping Huang2,3, Lev Tarasov4, Kristian K. Kjeldsen5, and Shfaqat A. Khan6
Rebekka Steffen et al.
  • 1Lantmäteriet, Geodetic Infrastructure, Gävle, Sweden
  • 2German Research Center for Geosciences, Potsdam, Germany
  • 3School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
  • 4Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Canada
  • 5Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 6Department of Geodesy and Earth Observations, DTU Space—National Space Institute, Technical University of Denmark, Lyngby, Denmark

The lithospheric thickness beneath and around Greenland varies from a few tens of kilometres in offshore regions to several tens of kilometres (up to 200 – 250 km) in land areas. But, due to different datasets and techniques applied in geophysical studies, there are large differences between the different geophysical lithosphere models. As an example, lithosphere models from seismological datasets show generally larger values (above 100 km), while models using gravity or thermal datasets tend to be thinner (values mostly below 100 km). To model the deformation associated with the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet a detailed lithosphere model is required. Nevertheless, seismologically obtained lithosphere models are the ones usually applied in these so-called glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) models. Besides, GIA models can be used to provide additional constraints on the lithospheric thickness.

Results from most 3D GIA models are compared to observed vertical velocities only, while horizontal velocities are known to be sensitive to the lateral variations of the Earth (e.g., lithospheric thickness). But, horizontal velocities from incompressible GIA models, which are commonly used, are not suitable due to the neglect of material parameter changes related to the dilatation. Compressible GIA models in turn can provide more accurate estimates of the horizontal and vertical viscoelastic deformations induced by ice-mass changes. Here, we use a variety of lithospheric thickness models, obtained from gravity, thermal, and seismological datasets, in a three-dimensional compressible GIA Earth model. The GIA model will be constructed using the finite-element software ABAQUS (Huang et al., under review in GJI) and applying recent ice history models Huy3 and GLAC-GR2a for Greenland in combination with the Little Ice Age deglaciation model by Kjeldsen et al. (2015). We will compare various lithosphere models, including their impact on the modelled 3D velocity field, and compare these against independent GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) observations.


Huang, P., Steffen, R., Steffen, H., Klemann, V., van der Wal, W., Reusen, J., Wu, P., Tanaka, Y., Martinec, Z., Thomas, M. (under review in GJI): A finite element approach to modelling Glacial Isostatic Adjustment on three-dimensional compressible earth models. Geophysical Journal International. Under review.

Kjeldsen, K., Korsgaard, N., Bjørk, A. et al. (2015): Spatial and temporal distribution of mass loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet since AD 1900. Nature 528, 396–400,

How to cite: Steffen, R., Steffen, H., Huang, P., Tarasov, L., Kjeldsen, K. K., and Khan, S.: Three-dimensional velocity variations due to ice mass changes in Greenland – Insights from a compressible glacial isostatic adjustment model, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-1807,, 2022.