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Sensitivity of Pine Island Glacier to observed ocean forcing

Christianson, Knut; Bushuk, Mitchell; Dutrieux, Pierre; Parizek, Byron R.; Joughin, Ian R.; Alley, Richard B.; Shean, David E.; Abrahamsen, E. Povl; Anandakrishnan, Sridhar; Heywood, Karen J.; Kim, Tae-Wan; Lee, Sang-Hoon; Nicholls, Keith; Stanton, Tim; Truffer, Martin; Webber, Benjamin G.M.; Jenkins, Adrian; Jacobs, Stan; Bindschadler, Robert; Holland, David M.. 2016 Sensitivity of Pine Island Glacier to observed ocean forcing. Geophysical Research Letters, 43 (20). 10817-10825. 10.1002/2016GL070500

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Abstract/Summary

We present subannual observations (2009–2014) of a major West Antarctic glacier (Pine Island Glacier) and the neighboring ocean. Ongoing glacier retreat and accelerated ice flow were likely triggered a few decades ago by increased ocean-induced thinning, which may have initiated marine ice-sheet instability. Following a subsequent 60% drop in ocean heat content from early 2012 to late 2013, ice flow slowed, but by < 4%, with flow recovering as the ocean warmed to prior temperatures. During this cold-ocean period, the evolving glacier-bed/ice-shelf system was also in a geometry favorable to stabilization. However, despite a minor, temporary decrease in ice discharge, the basin-wide thinning signal did not change. Thus, as predicted by theory, once marine ice-sheet instability is underway, a single transient high-amplitude ocean cooling has only a relatively minor effect on ice flow. The long-term effects of ocean-temperature variability on ice flow, however, are not yet known.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1002/2016GL070500
Programmes: BAS Programmes > BAS Programmes 2015 > Polar Oceans
ISSN: 0094-8276
Additional Keywords: glacier-ocean interaction, ice streams, ice shelves, marine ice-sheet instability, ice dynamics
Date made live: 25 Oct 2016 09:42 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/513477

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