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The Unsteady State of The Ross Ice Shelf (Abstract only)

  • Charles R. Bentley (a1)

Abstract

According to our present picture, the Ross Ice Shelf is subject to relatively rapid changes, perhaps constantly out of steady state, but not undergoing a long-term secular change. Recent supporting evidence comes from a flow band of ice extending from the edges of Beardmore Glacier as far as Nimrod Glacier. The boundaries of that band and of ice stemming from several individual glaciers within it have been traced on airborne radar records. Using measurements made as part of the Ross Ice Shelf Geophysical and Glaciological Survey (RIGGS) program, mass-flux variations along the bands have been calculated. The band from Nimrod Glacier, a major outlet glacier from the East Antarctic inland ice sheet, shows no significant deviations from zero for the sum of thence thickness change rate ∂H/∂t and bottom melt rate. ḃH. We interpret this to mean that ∂H/∂t and ḃH are separately small. Significant flux variations in the entire flow band are then attributed to relatively large variations in input flux from the alpine glaciers of the Transantarctic Mountains, and from zones between the glaciers. Although flux variations are not coherent between individual glacier bands, the average strengths of internal reflections (from bottom crevasses and/or included moraine), exhibit a semi-coherent variation with a period of 400 a that correlates with 180 variations in ice cores from Dome C and Byrd station.

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