May 27, 2014

Widespread, rapid grounding line retreat of Pine Island, Thwaites, Smith, and Kohler glaciers, West Antarctica, from 1992 to 2011

Rignot, E., Mouginot, J., Morlighem, M., Seroussi, H., Scheuchl, B.
Geophysical Research Letters
  • Measures the grounding line retreat of glaciers draining the Amundsen Sea sector of West Antarctica using Earth Remote Sensing (ERS-1/2) satellite radar interferometry from 1992 to 2011
  • Finds that
    • The Pine Island Glacier retreated 31 km at its center, with most retreat in 2005–2009 when the glacier ungrounded from its ice plain
    • The Thwaites Glacier retreated 14 km along its fast flow core and 1 to 9 km along the sides
    • The Haynes Glacier retreated 10 km along its flanks
    • The FniSmith/Kohler glaciers retreated the most, 35 km along its ice plain, and its ice shelf pinning points are vanishing
  • States that these rapid retreats proceed along regions of retrograde bed elevation mapped at a high spatial resolution using a mass conservation technique that removes residual ambiguities from prior mappings
  • Finds no major bed obstacle upstream of the 2011 grounding line positions that would prevent the glaciers from further retreat and draw down the entire basin