Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2022-217
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2022-217
 
05 Dec 2022
05 Dec 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Extensive and anomalous grounding line retreat at Vanderford Glacier, Vincennes Bay, Wilkes Land, East Antarctica

Hannah Jane Picton1,a, Chris R. Stokes1, Stewart S. R. Jamieson1, Dana Floricioiu2, and Lukas Krieger2 Hannah Jane Picton et al.
  • 1Department of Geography, University of Durham, Durham, DH1 3LE, England
  • 2Remote Sensing Technology Institute, German Aerospace Center, Wessling, Germany
  • acurrent address: School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, EH8 9XP, Scotland

Abstract. Wilkes Land, East Antarctica, has been losing mass at an accelerating rate over recent decades in response to enhanced oceanic forcing. Overlying the Aurora Subglacial Basin, it has been referred to as the ‘weak underbelly’ of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet and is drained by several major outlet glaciers. Despite their potential importance, few of these glaciers have been studied in detail. This includes the six outlet glaciers which drain into Vincennes Bay, a region recently discovered to have the warmest intrusions of modified Circumpolar Deep Water (mCDW) ever recorded in East Antarctica. Here, we use remotely sensed optical imagery, differential satellite aperture radar interferometry (DInSAR) and datasets of ice surface velocity, ice surface elevation and grounding line position, to investigate ice dynamics between 1963 and 2022. Decadal trends in frontal position are observed across the Vincennes Bay outlet glaciers, potentially correlated to variations in sea ice production. Ice surface velocities were generally stable between 2000 and 2021, with some fluctuations measured across the grounding line of Bond East Glacier. Changes in ice surface elevation were spatially variable, but a clear and consistent thinning trend was measured at Vanderford Glacier between 2003 and 2020. Enhanced rates of ice thinning were seen across each of the Vanderford, Adams, Anzac, and Underwood Glaciers between 2017 and 2020. Most importantly, our results confirm extensive grounding line retreat at Vanderford Glacier, measured at 18.6 km between 1996 and 2020. Such rapid grounding line retreat (0.8 km yr-1) is consistent with the notion that warm mCDW is able to access deep cavities formed below the Vanderford Ice Shelf, driving high rates of basal melting. With a retrograde slope observed inland along the Vanderford Trench, such oceanic forcing may have significant implications for the future stability of Vanderford Glacier.

Hannah Jane Picton et al.

Status: open (until 21 Feb 2023)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Review of "Extensive and anomalous grounding line retreat at Vanderford Glacier, Vincennes Bay, Wilkes Land, East Antarctica" by Picton et al. 2022', Wei Ji Leong, 05 Jan 2023 reply

Hannah Jane Picton et al.

Hannah Jane Picton et al.

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Short summary
This study provides an overview of recent ice dynamics within Vincennes Bay, Wilkes Land, East Antartica. This region was recently discovered to be vulnerable to intrusions of warm water capable of driving basal melt. Our results show extensive grounding line retreat at Vanderford Glacier, estimated at 18.6 km between 1996 and 2020. This supports the notion that the warm water is able to access deep cavities below the Vanderford Ice Shelf, potentially making Vanderford Glacier unstable.