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Late-Holocene changes in character and behaviour of land-terminating glaciers on James Ross Island, Antarctica

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Abstract:

Virtually no information is available on the response of land-terminating Antarctic Peninsula glaciers to climate change on a centennial timescale. This paper analyses the topography, geomorphology and sedimentology of prominent moraines on James Ross Island, Antarctica, to determine geometric changes and to interpret glacier behaviour. The moraines are very likely due to a late-Holocene phase of advance and featured (1) shearing and thrusting within the snout, (2) shearing and deformation of basal sediment, (3) more supraglacial debris than at present and (4) short distances of sediment transport. Retreat of ∼100 m and thinning of 15–20 m has produced a loss of 0.1 km3 of ice. The pattern of surface lowering is asymmetric. These geometrical changes are suggested most simply to be due to a net negative mass balance caused by a drier climate. Comparisons of the moraines with the current glaciological surface structure of the glaciers permits speculation of a transition from a polythermal to a cold-based thermal regime. Small land-terminating glaciers in the northern Antarctic Peninsula region could be cooling despite a warming climate.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3189/2012JoG11J148

Publication date: 2012-12-01

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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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