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34 year satellite time series to monitor characteristics, extent and dynamics of Larsen B Ice Shelf, Antarctic Peninsula

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Avariety of data are used to investigate Larsen B, which is at present the northernmost section of the Larsen Ice Shelf, Antarctic Peninsula. Recently declassified U.S. Argon satellite photographs from 1963, Kosmos photographs from 1975, Landsat images from 1986, 1988 and 1990, ERS-1/2 synthetic aperture radar images from 1992–97, Radarsat from 1998 and field surveys are used to analyze the areal extent, surface characteristics and dynamic behaviour of this ice-shelf section over more than three decades. Visible and radar imagery together with field observations are used synergistically to describe the ice-shelf morphology, including meltwater features and rifts. In contrast to the retreat of the ice-shelf sections in the north, Larsen B advanced steadily from 1963 to early 1995, when the area decreased significantly due to a major calving event. Analysis of different satellite images indicates that melting is proceeding further south in accordance with the regional warming trend. In addition, fracturing processes and rapid development of new rifts are observed, associated with recent acceleration of ice motion close to the front. All observations predict major calving events for this ice-shelf section in the near future.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 1999

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  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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