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History of lower Pine Island Glacier, West Antarctica, from Landsat imagery

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A 28 year record of lower Pine Island Glacier, West Antarctica, constructed from 15 Landsat images, shows changes at the terminus, grounding zone and both margins. The north margin has expanded 5 km into the adjacent ice shelf in a sustained event that was underway in 1973 and may have begun in 1957. Between 1991 and 1997, this expansion ceased and a new region of rifting was created associated with an ice rise on the glacier's floating tongue. Changes in the topography of a nearby ice rise are used to deduce an upper-bound estimate of a 134 m thinning of the adjacent ice shelf. On the south margin, widening was limited to 1km over the observation period and is seen propagating downstream in an intermediate-dated image. New areas of crevassing are also evident in the grounding zone of the glacier. Ice loss by the calving of large tabular bergs vastly exceeds mass loss by calving of many small bergs. These observations are consistent with reported changes of the 1990s and indicate that changes in the flow of Pine Island Glacier have occurred over the full period of satellite observations.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2002-12-01

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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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