Surface lowering of the ice ramp at Rothera Point, Antarctic Peninsula, in response to regional climate change

Level-line surveys at a number of sites on the Antarctic Peninsula since the early 1970s have shown a lowering of the ice surface elevation in areas where the climate is warm enough for melting to occur during summer. Results are presented here from annual surveys on the ice ramp at Rothcra Point. Over an 8 year period, a large proportion of the ramp shows a generally steady reduction in surface elevation. The uppermost part of the ramp shows no clear trend. The ice ramp has suffered a mean rate ofsurfaee lowering of 0.32 ma−1 w.e. over the period of the surveys, which is similar to that seen at other sites on the Antarctic Peninsula. Measured ice velocities on the ramp are low, so the surface lowering can be attributed directly to changes in surface mass balance. The Surveys coincide with a period of long-term increase in temperature and ablation seen in meteorological records. Comparison of the observed surface lowering with temperature data shows a good agreement, and we conclude that increasing air temperatures in the region will raise ablation and increase the recession rate of the ice ramp.


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Authors: Smith, A.M. ORCIDORCID record for A.M. Smith, Vaughan, D.G. ORCIDORCID record for D.G. Vaughan, Doake, C.S.M., Johnson, A.C.

On this site: Andy Smith, David Vaughan
1 January, 1998
Annals of Glaciology / 27
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