Changes in glacier dynamics at the northern Antarctic Peninsula since 1985
Thorsten Seehaus1, Alison Cook2, Aline B. Silva3, and Matthias H. Braun11Institute of Geography, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Wetterkreuz 15, 91058 Erlangen, Germany 2Department of Geography, Durham University, South Road, Durham DH1 3LE, UK 3Laboratório de Monitoramento da Criosfera, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande, Av. Itália, km 8, 96203-900, Rio Grande – RS Brazil
Received: 28 Mar 2017 – Accepted for review: 04 Apr 2017 – Discussion started: 07 Apr 2017
Abstract. The climatic conditions along the northern Antarctic Peninsula have shown significant changes within the last 50 years. Most studies have focused on the glaciers affected by the disintegration of the ice shelves along the east coast. However, temporally and spatially detailed observations of the changes in ice dynamics along both the east and west coastlines are missing. Temporal trends of glacier area (1985–2015) and ice surface velocity (1992–2014) changes are derived from a broad multi-mission remote sensing database for 74 glacier basins on the northern Antarctic Peninsula (< 65° S). A recession of the glaciers by 238.81 km2 is found for the period 1985–2015, whereas the glaciers affected by ice shelf disintegration showed the largest retreat by 208.59 km2. Glaciers on the east coast north of the former Prince Gustav Ice Shelf receded by only 21.07 km2 and decelerated by about 69 % on average. Whereat, the former ice shelf tributary glaciers on the east coast showed similar temporal ice dynamics trends. A dramatic acceleration after ice shelf disintegration with a subsequent deceleration is observed. In 2014, the flow speed of the former ice shelf tributaries was 16.8 % higher than at the beginning of the study period. Along the west coast the average flow speeds of the glaciers increased by 41.5 %. However, the glaciers on the western Antarctic Peninsula revealed a strong spatial variability of the changes in ice dynamics. By applying a hierarchical cluster analysis we show that this is associated with geometric parameters of the individual glacier basin. The heterogeneous pattern of ice dynamic trends at the northern Antarctic Peninsula points out that temporally and spatially detailed observations as well as further monitoring are necessary to reveal the full picture of glacier change in regions with such strong topographic and climatic gradients.
Seehaus, T., Cook, A., Silva, A. B., and Braun, M. H.: Changes in glacier dynamics at the northern Antarctic Peninsula since 1985, The Cryosphere Discuss., doi:10.5194/tc-2017-50, in review, 2017.