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Surging, accelerating surface lowering and volume reduction of the Malaspina Glacier system, Alaska, USA, and Yukon, Canada, from 1972 to 2006

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Near-concurrent surges and multi-decadal surface-elevation changes on the Malaspina Glacier system Alaska, USA, and Yukon, Canada, were investigated using digital elevation models and laser altimetry from airborne and space-borne sensors. Surface-elevation changes on Seward Lobe in two time periods support a hypothesis of moraine folding by a mechanism of sequential surges alternating from southeast to south-southwest. The near-concurrent surges of Agassiz, Lower Seward and Marvine glaciers support a hypothesis of englacial water storage being a critical factor of surging. Acceleration of area-average surface lowering on the piedmont glaciers occurred, from 1.5 ± 0.1 m a−1 between 1972 and 1999 to 2.3 ± 0.3 m a−1 between 1999 and 2002. On the western half of Upper Seward Glacier, above 1600 m, acceleration of surface lowering occurred from 2000 to 2003 relative to that from 1976 to 2000, indicating an effect from the surge of Lower Seward Glacier. From 2003 to 2006, the rate of surface lowering on Upper Seward Glacier has moderated back to the pre-2000 rate, indicating a recovery of surface elevation following the surge. From 1972 to 2002, the Malaspina Glacier system lost 156 ± 19 km3 (ice equivalent) on an area of 3661 km2.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2008-12-01

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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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