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Unsteady flow inferred for Thwaites Glacier, and comparison with Pine Island Glacier, West Antarctica

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We present a comparison of surface velocities in 1996, derived from interferometric synthetic aperture radar, with an estimate of the long-term, depth-averaged velocity based on the assumption of steady-state flow for both Pine Island Glacier and its neighbour, Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica. The results show that the former was close to balance conditions in 1996 (within 9%). The ice flux and velocity of the latter is significantly different in magnitude and distribution from that required to maintain the basin in a state of mass balance over the long term. The balance flux was found to be 32 ± 19% less than the measured outgoing flux. We conclude that the mass imbalance and dramatic difference in the pattern of flow is most likely due to a substantial change in the flow regime of Thwaites Glacier in the recent past.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2002

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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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