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AGU: Geophysical Research Letters

 

Keywords

  • Pine Island Glacier
  • Subgacial erosion

Index Terms

  • 0720 - Glaciers
  • 0730 - Ice streams
  • 0920 - Gravity methods
  • 0935 - Seismic methods
  • 9310 - Antarctica

Paper in Press

GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, doi:10.1029/2012GL051651

Rapid subglacial erosion beneath Pine Island Glacier, West Antarctica

Key Points
  • Rapid erosion at one location beneath Pine Island Glacier
  • Present-day erosion rate of 1 metre per year is possible
  • Subglacial erosion can be a significant component of surface lowering

Authors:

Andrew Mark Smith

Charles R. Bentley

Robert G. Bingham

Tom H. Jordan

We present measurements of ice thickness, gravimetry and surface elevation on Pine Island Glacier, West Antarctica, separated by a period of 49 years. At one station, on the main trunk of the glacier we measured a surface elevation lowering with no significant change in ice thickness. We interpret these as indicating subglacial erosion of 31.8 {plus minus} 13.4 m at this location, at a mean rate over the measurement period of 0.6 {plus minus} 0.3 m a-1, and suggest that a current erosion rate of ~1 m a-1 is possible. Our results emphasize that locally, basal processes can have a significant effect on ice sheet changes, particularly where fast-flowing ice has an easily erodible bed.

Received 16 March 2012; accepted 28 May 2012.

Citation: Smith, A. M., C. R. Bentley, R. G. Bingham, and T. H. Jordan (2012), Rapid subglacial erosion beneath Pine Island Glacier, West Antarctica, Geophys. Res. Lett., doi:10.1029/2012GL051651, in press.