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Recent ice-surface-elevation changes of Fleming Glacier in response to the removal of the Wordie Ice Shelf, Antarctic Peninsula

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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

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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