Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Antarctica - Pine Island Glacier, West Antarctica, Sustained Glacier Retreat

In this paper the authors1 use satellite observations to show that the Pine Island Glacier hinge line retreated at 0.95 ± 0.09 km/yr between 1992-2011, even though there was a progressive steepening of the glacier surface and shoaling of the bedrock slope, which the authors1 suggest should have impeded retreat. As the glacier terminus has thinned at an accelerating rate of 0.53 ± 0.15 m/yr/yr, with comparable changes upstream, the retreat has remained constant. This acceleration is consistent with the cavity beneath the floating section of the glacier being subjected to an intensification of ocean-driven melting. Until the ice becomes buoyant locally the pattern of hinge-line retreat meanders, being concentrated in isolated regions. The authors1 suggest the lower limit of sea level projections may be too conservative as a position of relative stability does not appear to have been reached by the glacier-ocean system.

Sources & Further reading

  1. Park, J. W., N. Gourmelen, A. Shepherd, S. W. Kim, D. G. Vaughan, and D. J. Wingham. "Sustained Retreat of the Pine Island Glacier." Geophysical Research Letters 40, no. 10 (2013): 2137-42.
Author: M. H. Monroe
Last updated 28/07/2013
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