Uneven onset and pace of ice-dynamical imbalance in the Amundsen Sea Embayment, West Antarctica

Hannes Konrad, Lin Gilbert, Stephen Cornford, Tony Payne, Anna Hogg, Alan Muir, Andrew Shepherd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)
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We combine measurements acquired by five satellite altimeter missions to obtain an uninterrupted record of ice-sheet elevation change over the Amundsen Sea Embayment, West Antarctica, since 1992. Using these data, we examine the onset of surface lowering arising through ice-dynamical imbalance, and the pace at which it has propagated inland, by tracking elevation changes along glacier flowlines. Surface lowering has spread slowest (<6 km/yr) along the Pope, Smith, and Kohler (PSK) Glaciers, due to their small extent. Pine Island Glacier (PIG) is characterized by a continuous inland spreading of surface lowering, notably fast at rates of 13 to 15 km/yr along tributaries draining the southeastern lobe, possibly due to basal conditions or tributary geometry. Surface lowering on Thwaites Glacier (THG) has been episodic, and has spread inland fastest (10 to 12 km/yr) along its central flowlines. The current episodes of surface lowering started approximately 10 yr before the first measurements on PSK, around 1990 on PIG, and around 2000 on THG. Ice-dynamical imbalance across the sector has therefore been uneven during the satellite record.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)910-918
Number of pages9
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number2
Early online date26 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2017


  • Glacier retreat
  • Amundsen Sea
  • Satellite altimetry

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