The fourth Greenland Expedition of the University of Michigan was carried out in the winter of 1930–1931 within the Upernivik District of west Greenland.
Although the objectives of the expedition were primarily meteorological and aerological, glacial studies were also made. Attention was paid to the position of the ice front by means of triangulations. The front of the Upernivik Glacier was mapped in its entirety; extensive studies were made concerning its rate of movement, and these are compared with studies of movement made by Captain Ryder in 1886 and 1887. The positions of the fronts of Giesecke, Ussing, and Cornell glaciers were also determined.
It was found that the highest rates of motion were naturally encountered in the glaciers of the large icefjords. The greatest movements were found near the center of the ice stream. A comparison of Ryder’s observations with the author’s shows some agreement as well as some differences. No such great velocities as were found by Ryder in 1886 were recorded for the 1931 period. The direction of movement has remained the same. Of the many outlet glaciers in the district, Upernivik Glacier is by far the largest and most productive. Some of the glaciers in the district showed a marked retreat within the past 40 years. This retreat was greatest at the Upernivik Glacier near the south margin of the district.