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New boundary conditions for the West Antarctic ice sheet: Subglacial topography beneath Pine Island Glacier topography beneath Pine Island Glacier

Predictions about future changes in the Amundsen Sea sector of the West Antarctic ice sheet (WAIS) have been hampered by poorly known subglacial topography. Extensive airborne survey has allowed us to derive improved subglacial topography for the Pine Island Glacier basin. The trunk of this glacier lies in a narrow, 250km long, 500m deep sub-glacial trough, suggesting a long-lived and constrained ice stream. Two tributaries lie in similar troughs, others lie in less defined, shallower troughs. The lower basin of the glacier is surrounded by bedrock, which, after deglaciation and isostatic rebound, could rise above sea level. This feature would impede ice-sheet collapse initiated near the grounding line of this glacier, and prevent its progress into the deepest portions of WAIS. The inland-slope of the bed beneath the trunk of the glacier, however, confirms potential instability of the lower basin, containing sufficient ice to raise global sea by ~24cm.

Find link to the full paper in the NERC Open Research Archive


David Vaughan, Hugh Corr, Fausto Ferraccioli, Nick Frearson, Aidan O'Hare (BAS)


Geophysical Research Letters, 33, No. 9, L09501, doi:10.1029/2005GL025588, 4pp.