Sensitivity of Pine Island Glacier to observed ocean forcing
Holland, David M.
Webber, Benjamin G.M.
Stanton, Timothy P.
Lee, Sang Hoon
Heywood, Karen J.
Shean, David E.
Parizek, Byron R.
Joughin, Ian R.
Alley, Richard B.
Abrahamsen, E. Povl
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We present subannual observations (2009–2014) of a major West Antarctic glacier (Pine Island Glacier) and the neighboring ocean. Ongoing glacier retreat and accelerated ice flow were likely triggered a few decades ago by increased ocean-induced thinning, which may have initiated marine ice sheet instability. Following a subsequent 60% drop in ocean heat content from early 2012 to late 2013, ice flow slowed, but by < 4%, with flow recovering as the ocean warmed to prior temperatures. During this cold-ocean period, the evolving glacier-bed/ice shelf system was also in a geometry favorable to stabilization. However, despite a minor, temporary decrease in ice discharge, the basin-wide thinning signal did not change. Thus, as predicted by theory, once marine ice sheet instability is underway, a single transient high-amplitude ocean cooling has only a relatively minor effect on ice flow. The long-term effects of ocean temperature variability on ice flow, however, are not yet known.
The article of record as published may be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/2016GL070500GPS data are archived with UNAVCO (www.unavco.org). Oceanographic data have been submitted to the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (https:// www.nodc.noaa.gov/), British Oceanographic Data Centre (http:// www.bodc.ac.uk/), and IEDA/MGDS Southern Ocean portal (http://www. marine-geo.org/index.php). SARderived ice velocity fields and grounding lines, and basal altimeter range data are freely available from the corresponding author.
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