Ocean forcing of glacier retreat in the western Antarctic Peninsula

In recent decades, hundreds of glaciers draining the Antarctic Peninsula (63° to 70°S) have undergone systematic and progressive change. These changes are widely attributed to rapid increases in regional surface air temperature, but it is now clear that this cannot be the sole driver. Here, we identify a strong correspondence between mid-depth ocean temperatures and glacier-front changes along the ~1000-kilometer western coastline. In the south, glaciers that terminate in warm Circumpolar Deep Water have undergone considerable retreat, whereas those in the far northwest, which terminate in cooler waters, have not. Furthermore, a mid-ocean warming since the 1990s in the south is coincident with widespread acceleration of glacier retreat. We conclude that changes in ocean-induced melting are the primary cause of retreat for glaciers in this region.

Details

Publication status:
Published
Author(s):
Authors: Cook, A.J., Holland, P.R., Meredith, M.P., Murray, T., Luckman, A., Vaughan, D.G.

On this site: David Vaughan, Michael Meredith, Paul Holland
Date:
15 July, 2016
Journal/Source:
Science / 353
Page(s):
283-286
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aae0017