Recent ice-surface-elevation changes of Fleming Glacier in response to the removal of the Wordie Ice Shelf, Antarctic Peninsula
Abstract:Regional climate warming has caused several ice shelves on the Antarctic Peninsula to retreat and ultimately collapse during recent decades. Glaciers flowing into these retreating ice shelves have responded with accelerating ice flow and thinning. The Wordie Ice Shelf on the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula was reported to have undergone a major areal reduction before 1989. Since then, this ice shelf has continued to retreat and now very little floating ice remains. Little information is currently available regarding the dynamic response of the glaciers feeding the Wordie Ice Shelf, but we describe a Chilean International Polar Year project, initiated in 2007, targeted at studying the glacier dynamics in this area and their relationship to local meteorological conditions. Various data were collected during field campaigns to Fleming Glacier in the austral summers of 2007/08 and 2008/09. In situ measurements of ice-flow velocity first made in 1974 were repeated and these confirm satellite-based assessments that velocity on the glacier has increased by 40–50% since 1974. Airborne lidar data collected in December 2008 can be compared with similar data collected in 2004 in collaboration with NASA and the Chilean Navy. This comparison indicates continued thinning of the glacier, with increasing rates of thinning downstream, with a mean of 4.1 ± 0.2 m a−1 at the grounding line of the glacier. These comparisons give little indication that the glacier is achieving a new equilibrium.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: June 1, 2010
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