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      Retreat of Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica, over the next 100 years using various ice flow models, ice shelf melt scenarios and basal friction laws

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      The Cryosphere

      Copernicus GmbH

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          Abstract

          <p><strong>Abstract.</strong> Thwaites Glacier (TG), West Antarctica, has experienced rapid, potentially irreversible grounding line retreat and mass loss in response to enhanced ice shelf melting. Results from recent numerical models suggest a large spread in the evolution of the glacier in the coming decades to a century. It is therefore important to investigate how different approximations of the ice stress balance, parameterizations of basal friction and ice shelf melt parameterizations may affect projections. Here, we simulate the evolution of TG using ice sheet models of varying levels of complexity, different basal friction laws and ice shelf melt to quantify their effect on the projections. We find that the grounding line retreat and its sensitivity to ice shelf melt are enhanced when a full-Stokes model is used, a Budd friction is used and ice shelf melt is applied on partially floating elements. Initial conditions also impact the model results. Yet, all simulations suggest a rapid, sustained retreat of the glacier along the same preferred pathway. The fastest retreat rate occurs on the eastern side of the glacier, and the slowest retreat occurs across a subglacial ridge on the western side. All the simulations indicate that TG will undergo an accelerated retreat once the glacier retreats past the western subglacial ridge. Combining all the simulations, we find that the uncertainty of the projections is small in the first 30 years, with a cumulative contribution to sea level rise of 5<span class="thinspace"></span>mm, similar to the current rate. After 30 years, the contribution to sea level depends on the model configurations, with differences up to 300<span class="thinspace"></span>% over the next 100 years, ranging from 14 to 42<span class="thinspace"></span>mm.</p>

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          Bedmap2: improved ice bed, surface and thickness datasets for Antarctica

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            Extensive dynamic thinning on the margins of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.

            Many glaciers along the margins of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are accelerating and, for this reason, contribute increasingly to global sea-level rise. Globally, ice losses contribute approximately 1.8 mm yr(-1) (ref. 8), but this could increase if the retreat of ice shelves and tidewater glaciers further enhances the loss of grounded ice or initiates the large-scale collapse of vulnerable parts of the ice sheets. Ice loss as a result of accelerated flow, known as dynamic thinning, is so poorly understood that its potential contribution to sea level over the twenty-first century remains unpredictable. Thinning on the ice-sheet scale has been monitored by using repeat satellite altimetry observations to track small changes in surface elevation, but previous sensors could not resolve most fast-flowing coastal glaciers. Here we report the use of high-resolution ICESat (Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite) laser altimetry to map change along the entire grounded margins of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. To isolate the dynamic signal, we compare rates of elevation change from both fast-flowing and slow-flowing ice with those expected from surface mass-balance fluctuations. We find that dynamic thinning of glaciers now reaches all latitudes in Greenland, has intensified on key Antarctic grounding lines, has endured for decades after ice-shelf collapse, penetrates far into the interior of each ice sheet and is spreading as ice shelves thin by ocean-driven melt. In Greenland, glaciers flowing faster than 100 m yr(-1) thinned at an average rate of 0.84 m yr(-1), and in the Amundsen Sea embayment of Antarctica, thinning exceeded 9.0 m yr(-1) for some glaciers. Our results show that the most profound changes in the ice sheets currently result from glacier dynamics at ocean margins.
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              Ice-shelf melting around Antarctica.

              We compare the volume flux divergence of Antarctic ice shelves in 2007 and 2008 with 1979 to 2010 surface accumulation and 2003 to 2008 thinning to determine their rates of melting and mass balance. Basal melt of 1325 ± 235 gigatons per year (Gt/year) exceeds a calving flux of 1089 ± 139 Gt/year, making ice-shelf melting the largest ablation process in Antarctica. The giant cold-cavity Ross, Filchner, and Ronne ice shelves covering two-thirds of the total ice-shelf area account for only 15% of net melting. Half of the meltwater comes from 10 small, warm-cavity Southeast Pacific ice shelves occupying 8% of the area. A similar high melt/area ratio is found for six East Antarctic ice shelves, implying undocumented strong ocean thermal forcing on their deep grounding lines.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                The Cryosphere
                The Cryosphere
                Copernicus GmbH
                1994-0424
                2018
                December 11 2018
                : 12
                : 12
                : 3861-3876
                Article
                10.5194/tc-12-3861-2018
                © 2018

                https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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