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Ice flow variations at Polar Record Glacier, East Antarctica

  • QI LIANG (a1) (a2) (a3), CHUNXIA ZHOU (a1) (a2), IAN M. HOWAT (a3) (a4), SEONGSU JEONG (a4), RUIXI LIU (a1) (a2) and YIMING CHEN (a1) (a2)...


Relatively little is known about the physical mechanisms that drive the dynamics of the East Antarctic outlet glaciers. Here we conduct a remote-sensing investigation of the Polar Record Glacier (PRG), East Antarctica to analyze its ice flow acceleration, ice front variations and ice surface melting. Ice flow speeds at PRG increased by up to 15% from 2005 to 2015, with substantial interannual fluctuations. The ice velocities also showed seasonal variations, accelerating by up to 9% between September and January. Multiple mechanisms contribute to the observed seasonal variations: the initial acceleration may result from the lost back-stress provided by the sea ice in the austral spring and the later speedup relate to the surface meltwater that leads to weakened ice shelf and shear margins. The sensitivity of the PRG to oceanic forcing is confirmed by comparing the secular ice velocity increases with ocean temperatures. These measurements suggest that the dynamics of East Antarctic ice shelves are sensitive to melt at both the surface and base, at a range of timescales.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Correspondence: Chunxia Zhou <>


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Present address: University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA, USA.



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