13 Jul 2022
13 Jul 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Grounding line retreat and tide-modulated ocean channels at Moscow University and Totten Glacier ice shelves, East Antarctica

Tian Li1,2, Geoffrey J. Dawson1, Stephen J. Chuter1, and Jonathan L. Bamber1,2 Tian Li et al.
  • 1Bristol Glaciology Centre, School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, BS8 1SS, UK
  • 2Department of Aerospace and Geodesy, Data Science in Earth Observation, Technical University of Munich, Ottobrunn, 85521, Germany

Abstract. The Totten and Moscow University glaciers, located in East Antarctica, contain 5.1 m sea-level equivalent of ice and have been losing mass over recent decades. Using ICESat-2 laser altimetry repeat track analysis and satellite radar interferometry from Sentinel-1a/b SAR images, we mapped the grounding line locations of these two glaciers between 2017 and 2021. We detected pervasive grounding line retreat along the ice plains at the glacier central trunk of Totten Glacier Ice Shelf (TGIS) and Moscow University Ice Shelf (MUIS), where the GL retreated 3.51 ± 0.49 km and 13.85 ± 0.08 km during 1996–2020, respectively. Using CryoSat-2 radar altimetry, we found that the observed grounding line retreats are coincident with high thinning rates and high ice velocities, indicating a mass loss pattern dominated by ice dynamics. We also identified two tide-modulated ocean channels on the Totten eastern ice shelf and the Moscow University western ice shelf, where the ocean channel widths are highly correlated with the tidal range. The opening of the Moscow University western ice shelf channel connects the two previously separated TGIS and MUIS systems, which might open a pathway for the warm modified circumpolar deep water entering the main MUIS cavity and facilitate further grounding line retreat.

Tian Li et al.

Status: open (until 10 Sep 2022)

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Tian Li et al.


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Short summary
The Totten and Moscow University glaciers in East Antarctica have the potential to make a significant contribution to future sea-level rise. We used a combination of different satellite measurements to show that the grounding lines have been retreating along the fast-flowing ice streams across these two glaciers. We also found two tide-modulated ocean channels that might open new pathways for the warm ocean water to enter the ice shelf cavity.