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Detailed quantification of glacier elevation and mass changes in South Georgia

Farias-Barahona, David; Sommer, Christian; Sauter, Tobias; Bannister, Daniel ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2982-3751; Seehaus, Thorsten C.; Malz, Philipp; Casassa, Gino; Mayewski, Paul A.; Turton, Jenny A.; Braun, Matthias H.. 2020 Detailed quantification of glacier elevation and mass changes in South Georgia. Environmental Research Letters, 15 (3), 034036. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ab6b32

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Abstract/Summary

Most glaciers in South America and on the Antarctic Peninsula are retreating and thinning. They are considered strong contributors to global sea level rise. However, there is a lack of glacier mass balance studies in other areas of the Southern Hemisphere, such as the surrounding Antarctic Islands. Here, we present a detailed quantification of the 21st century glacier elevation and mass changes for the entire South Georgia Island using bi-static synthetic aperture radar interferometry between 2000 and 2013. The results suggest a significant mass loss since the beginning of the present century. We calculate an average glacier mass balance of -1.04 0.09 m w.e.a(-1) and a mass loss rate of 2.28 0.19 Gt a(-1) (2000-2013), contributing 0.006 0.001 mm a(-1) to sea-level rise. Additionally, we calculate a subaqueous mass loss of 0.77 0.04 Gt a(-1) (2003-2016), with an area change at the marine and lake-terminating glacier fronts of -6.58 0.33 km(2) a(-1), corresponding to similar to 4% of the total glacier area. Overall, we observe negative mass balance rates in South Georgia, with the highest thinning and retreat rates at the large outlet glaciers located at the north-east coast. Although the spaceborne remote sensing dataset analysed in this research is a key contribution to better understanding of the glacier changes in South Georgia, more detailed field measurements, glacier dynamics studies or further long-term analysis with high-resolution regional climate models are required to precisely identify the forcing factors.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ab6b32
ISSN: 17489326
Additional Keywords: glacier mass balance, elevation changes, InSAR, sub-antarctic glaciers
Date made live: 23 Jan 2020 09:46 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/526564

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