The speedup of Pine Island Ice Shelf between 2017 and 2020: Revaluating the importance of ice damage

Sainan Sun*, Hilmar Gudmundsson

*Corresponding author for this work

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From 2017 to 2020, three significant calving events took place on Pine Island Glacier, West Antarctica. Ice-shelf velocities changed over this period and the calving events have been suggested as possible drivers. However, satellite observations also show significant changes in the areal extent of fracture zones, especially in the marginal areas responsible for providing lateral support to the ice shelf. Here, we conduct a model study to identify and quantify drivers of recent ice-flow changes of the Pine Island Ice Shelf. In agreement with recent studies, we find that the calving events caused significant velocity changes over the ice shelf. However, calving alone cannot explain observed velocity changes. Changes in the structural rigidity, i.e. ice damage, further significantly impacted ice flow. We suggest that ice damage evolution of the ice-shelf margins may have influenced recent calving events, and these two processes are linked.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Glaciology
Early online date9 Oct 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Oct 2023

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