Climate-driven vertical acceleration of Icelandic crust measured by continuous GPS geodesy

Kathleen Compton, Richard A. Bennett, Sigrún Hreinsdóttir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


© 2015 The Authors. Earth's present-day response to enhanced glacial melting resulting from climate change can be measured using Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. We present data from 62 continuously operating GPS instruments in Iceland. Statistically significant upward velocity and accelerations are recorded at 27 GPS stations, predominantly located in the Central Highlands region of Iceland, where present-day thinning of the Iceland ice caps results in velocities of more than 30mm/yr and uplift accelerations of 1-2mm/yr$^{2}$. We use our acceleration estimates to back calculate to a time of zero velocity, which coincides with the initiation of ice loss in Iceland from ice mass balance calculations and Arctic warming trends. We show, through a simple inversion, a direct relationship between ice mass balance measurements and vertical position and show that accelerated unloading is required to reproduce uplift observations for a simple elastic layer over viscoelastic half-space model.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)743-750
Number of pages8
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 6 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: Data presented in Figure 1 are available in Table S1 in the supporting information. K.C. is funded by NSF Graduate Research Fellowship award DGE-1143953 and the P.E.O. Scholar Award. The Central Highlands Iceland GPS network was funded by the University of Arizona and grants from NSF (EAR-0711446 to the University of Arizona) and the Icelandic Center for Research RANNIS (60243011 to the Nordic Volcanological Center, University of Iceland). Installation and operation of additional sites used in this study were led by the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO), University of Iceland, Penn State, ETH, Landmælingar Íslands, Landsvirkjun, Université de Savoie, Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, and KAUST. REYK and HOFN are International GNSS Service stations. UNAVCO and the IMO provided the technical support.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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