Diverse landscapes beneath Pine Island Glacier influence ice flow

Robert Bingham, David Vaughan, Edward King, Damon Davies, Stephen Cornford, Andrew Smith, Robert Arthern, Alex Brisbourne, Jan De Rydt, Alastair Graham, Matteo Spagnolo, Oliver Marsh, David E Shean

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Abstract

The retreating Pine Island Glacier (PIG), West Antarctica, presently contributes ~5–10% of global sea-level rise. PIG’s retreat rate has increased in recent decades with associated thinning migrating upstream into tributaries feeding the main glacier trunk. To project future change requires modelling that includes robust parameterisation of basal traction, the resistance to ice flow at the bed. However, most ice-sheet models estimate basal traction from satellite-derived surface velocity, without a priori knowledge of the key processes from which it is derived, namely friction at the ice-bed interface and form drag, and the resistance to ice flow that arises as ice deforms to negotiate bed topography. Here, we present high-resolution maps, acquired using ice-penetrating radar, of the bed topography across parts of PIG. Contrary to lower-resolution data currently used for ice-sheet models, these data show a contrasting topography across the ice-bed interface. We show that these diverse subglacial landscapes have an impact on ice flow, and present a challenge for modelling ice-sheet evolution and projecting global sea-level rise from ice-sheet loss.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1618
JournalNature Communications
Volume8
Early online date20 Nov 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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Keywords

  • cryospheric science
  • geomorphology
  • geophysics

Cite this

Bingham, R., Vaughan, D., King, E., Davies, D., Cornford, S., Smith, A., ... Shean, D. E. (2017). Diverse landscapes beneath Pine Island Glacier influence ice flow. Nature Communications, 8, [1618]. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-017-01597-y