Subglacial topography and ice flux along the English Coast of Palmer Land, Antarctic Peninsula

Kate Winter*, Emily A. Hill, G. Hilmar Gudmundsson, John Woodward

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Recent satellite data have revealed widespread grounding line retreat, glacier thinning, and associated mass loss along the Bellingshausen Sea sector, leading to increased concern for the stability of this region of Antarctica. While satellites have greatly improved our understanding of surface conditions, a lack of radio-echo sounding (RES) data in this region has restricted our analysis of subglacial topography, ice thickness, and ice flux. In this paper we analyse 3000 km of 150 MHz airborne RES data collected using the PASIN2 radar system (flown at 3–5 km line spacing) to investigate the subglacial controls on ice flow near the grounding lines of Ers, Envisat, Cryosat, Grace, Sentinel, Lidke, and Landsat ice streams as well as Hall and Nikitin glaciers. We find that each outlet is topographically controlled, and when ice thickness is combined with surface velocity data from MEaSUREs (Mouginot et al., 2019a), these outlets are found to discharge over 39.25 ± 0.79 Gt a−1 of ice to floating ice shelves and the Southern Ocean. Our RES measurements reveal that outlet flows are grounded more than 300 m below sea level and that there is limited topographic support for inland grounding line re-stabilization in a future retreating scenario, with several ice stream beds dipping inland at ∼ 5∘ km−1. These data reinforce the importance of accurate bed topography to model and understand the controls on inland ice flow and grounding line position as well as overall mass balance and sea level change estimates. RES data described in this paper are available through the UK Polar Data Centre: https://doi.org/10.5285/E07D62BF-D58C-4187-A019-59BE998939CC (Corr and Robinson, 2020).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3453-3467
Number of pages15
JournalEarth System Science Data
Volume12
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Dec 2020

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