Sermeq Kujalleq – the World’s Fastest Glacier

The glacier brook Sermeq Kujalleq is one of the world’s most productive glaciers and the fastest glacier brook in the world.
  • Within the last ten years the glacier has doubled its speed. Today it moves at a speed of around 40 meters every 24 hours.
  • In recent years the glacier front has withdrawn significantly. Today the 40 to 90 meters high glacier front is mainly located on land.
  • The glacier calves around 46 cubic kilometers of ice every year. If you melted this amount of ice, the resulting amount of water could cover the monthly consumption of water in the USA.
  • The glacier produces ten percent of all the icebergs in Greenland.
  • The largest icebergs calved by the glacier are the size of 1.5 cubic kilometers of ice. This is the equivalent of 30 football fields covered by a layer of ice as high as Mount Everest. An iceberg of this size could supply the population of Denmark with water for almost seven years!
  • Only between 1/10 and 1/7 of an iceberg protrudes above the surface of the sea. This varies in accordance with the iceberg’s content of air bubbles, sand, and gravel.

Why Is Sermeq Kujalleq so Fast? 

The high velocity of the Sermeq Kujalleq is due to the fact that ice from a very large drainage area is concentrated in a narrow stream that follows a deep trough under the glacier.

Furthermore, the scientists believe that the rising temperatures result in increasing amounts of melt water under the glacier. Here the water functions as a lubricant reducing the frictional resistance, which again allows the glacier to increase its speed. 
The size of the ice production from glaciers in the south and the west of Greenland. The graphic representation clearly shows that the Sermeq Kujalleq is by far the most productive glacier (Figure: GEUS).

The Iceberg Bank 

The Iceberg bank is a moraine deposit, created during previous advances of the glacier. Here all glaciers whose depths extend more than 200-300 meters into the water go aground, when they drift out of the approx. 1000 meter deep fjord.

The icebergs can only pass the bank when they have melted or calved into smaller pieces. From the mouth of the Icefjord, the icebergs typically drift northwards along the west coast of Greenland till they encounter the Baffin current, which may take them as far south into the Atlantic as the Azores.
The arrows indicate the typical direction of the Greenlandic icebergs. Moreover, the graphic illustration shows the locations in the Atlantic in which icebergs have been registered over the years. (Figure GEUS).