Ice-shelf retreat drives recent Pine Island Glacier speedup

Speedup of Pine Island Glacier over the past several decades has made it Antarctica’s largest contributor to sea-level rise. The past speedup is largely due to grounding-line retreat in response to ocean-induced thinning that reduced ice-shelf buttressing. While speeds remained fairly steady from 2009 to late 2017, our Copernicus Sentinel 1A/B–derived velocity data show a >12% speedup over the past 3 years, coincident with a 19-km retreat of the ice shelf. We use an ice-flow model to simulate this loss, finding that accelerated calving can explain the recent speedup, independent of the grounding-line, melt-driven processes responsible for past speedups. If the ice shelf’s rapid retreat continues, it could further destabilize the glacier far sooner than would be expected due to surface- or ocean-melting processes.


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Authors: Joughin, Ian, Shapero, Daniel, Smith, Ben, Dutrieux, Pierre ORCIDORCID record for Pierre Dutrieux, Barham, Mark ORCIDORCID record for Mark Barham

On this site: Mark Barham, Pierre Dutrieux
11 June, 2021
Science Advances / 7
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