Acceleration of Pine Island and Thwaites Glaciers, West Antarctica
Recent satellite investigations revealed that in the 1990s the grounding line of Pine Island and Thwaites Glaciers, West Antarctica, retreated several km, the ice surface on the interior of the basins lowered 10 cm a-1, and Pine Island Glacier thinned 1.6 m a-1. These observations, however, were not sufficient to determine the cause of the changes. Here, we present satellite radar interferometry data that show the thinning and retreat of Pine Island Glacier are caused by an acceleration of ice flow of about 18 ± 2% in 8 years. Thwaites Glacier maintained a nearly constant flow regime at its center, but widened along the sides, and increased its 30 ± 15% mass deficit by another 4% in 4 years. The combined mass loss from both glaciers, if correct, contributes an estimated 0.08 ± 0.03 mm a-1 global sea-level rise in 2000.
Authors: Rignot, Eric, Vaughan, David G., Schmeltz, Majorie, Dupont, Todd, MacAyeal, Douglas