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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-80
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-80
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: brief communication 09 Apr 2020

Submitted as: brief communication | 09 Apr 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Brief Communication: Heterogenous thinning and subglacial lake activity on Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica

Andrew O. Hoffman1, Knut Christianson1, Daniel Shapero2, Benjamin E. Smith2, and Ian Joughin2 Andrew O. Hoffman et al.
  • 1Department of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, 98115, United States of America
  • 2Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, 98115, United States of America

Abstract. A system of subglacial lakes drained on Thwaites Glacier from 2012–2014. To improve coverage for subsequent drainage events, we extended the elevation and ice velocity time series on Thwaites Glacier through austral winter 2019. These new observations document a second drainage cycle and identified two new lake systems located in the western tributaries of Thwaites and Haynes Glaciers. In situ and satellite velocity observations show temporary < 3 % speed fluctuations associated with lake drainages. In agreement with previous studies, these observations suggest that active subglacial hydrology has little influence on Thwaites Glacier thinning and retreat on decadal to centennial timescales

Andrew O. Hoffman et al.

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Andrew O. Hoffman et al.

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Heterogenous thinning and subglacial lake fill-drain cycles observed on Thwaites Glacier, Antarctica A. Hoffman, K. Christianson, and B. Smith https://doi.org/10.5446/44023

Water routing across Thwaites Glacier, Antarctica A. Hoffman, K. Christianson, and B. Smith https://doi.org/10.5446/44035

Andrew O. Hoffman et al.

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Latest update: 02 Jun 2020
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Short summary
The West Antarctic Ice Sheet has long been considered geometrically prone to collapse, and Thwaites Glacier, the largest glacier in the Amundsen Sea is likely in the early stages of disintegration. Using observations of Thwaites Glacier velocity and elevation change, we show that the transport of ~ 2 cubic kilometres of water beneath Thwaites Glacier, has only a small and transient effect on glacier speed relative to ongoing thinning driven by ocean melt.
The West Antarctic Ice Sheet has long been considered geometrically prone to collapse, and...
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