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A millennium of variable ice flow recorded by the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica

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An enhanced composite Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR)image is used to map flow stripes and rifts across the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica. The patterns of these flow-related features reveal a history of discharge variations from the ice streams feeding the eastern part of the shelf. The most profound variations are visible in the track of rifts downstream of Crary Ice Rise, flow-stripe bends to the west of this ice rise and adjacent to Steershead ice rise, and changes in the northern margin of Ice Stream B. The track of rifts downstream of Crary Ice Rise indicates that the ice rise has existed for at least 700 years. The character of this track changes about 350 km downstream, indicating a rearrangement of flow patterns about 550 years ago. The large bulge in the flow stripes to the west of Crary Ice Rise is shown in detail, with bent flow stripes extending for several hundred kilometers along flow; this feature formed from the south, possibly due to a change in the discharge of Ice Stream A. The AVHRR image documents a complex history asso- ciated with the shutdown of Ice Stream C, with changes in the margins of Ice Stream C and the northern margin of Ice Stream B, and the grounding of Steershead ice rise with an associated bending and truncation of flow stripes. Landsat imagery shows a region that appears to be actively extending just downstream of the ice rise, as the shelf continues to respond to recent changes in ice-stream discharge. We present a four-stage flow history which accounts for the features preserved in the ice shelf.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2000

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  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.
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