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Acceleration of Pine Island and Thwaites Glaciers, West Antarctica

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Recent satellite investigations revealed that in the 1990s the grounding line of Pine Island and Thwaites Glaciers, West Antarctica, retreated several km, the ice surface on the interior of the basins lowered 10 cm a-1, and Pine Island Glacier thinned 1.6 m a-1. These observations, however, were not sufficient to determine the cause of the changes. Here, we present satellite radar interferometry data that show the thinning and retreat of Pine Island Glacier are caused by an acceleration of ice flow of about 18 ± 2% in 8 years. Thwaites Glacier maintained a nearly constant flow regime at its center, but widened along the sides, and increased its 30 ± 15% mass deficit by another 4% in 4 years. The combined mass loss from both glaciers, if correct, contributes an estimated 0.08 ± 0.03 mm a-1 global sea-level rise in 2000.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2002-01-01

More about this publication?
  • 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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