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Ice loss processes in the Seal Nunataks ice shelf region from satellite altimetry and imagery

  • Christopher Shuman (a1), Ted Scambos (a2) and Etienne Berthier (a3)


The Seal Nunataks ice shelf (SNIS, ~743 km2 in 2013) is an unofficial name for a remnant area between the former Larsen A and Larsen B ice shelves off the northeastern Antarctic Peninsula. Analyses using Landsat 7 ETM+ and Terra ASTER images from 2001 to 13 and ICESat altimetry from 2003 to 09 show it has retreated and thinned following the Larsen A (1995) and Larsen B (2002) disintegrations. Despite some regional cooling and more fast ice since 2008, SNIS continues to lose ice along its margins and may be losing contact with some nunataks. Detailed analysis of data from four ICESat tracks indicates that ice shelf thinning rates range between 1.9 and 2.7 m a−1, and generally increase from west to east. An ICESat repeat track crossing the adjacent Robertson Island shows a mean elevation loss of 1.8 m a−1. Two tracks crossing the SNIS's remaining tributary, Rogosh Glacier, show sub-meter elevation losses. Comparing shelf remnant and grounded ice thinning rates implies that basal ocean melting augments SNIS thinning by ~1 m a−1, a rate that is consistent with other estimates of ocean-driven shelf thinning in the region.

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