6. West Antarctic Ice Sheet and CO2 Greenhouse effect – threat of disaster. Nature Geosci 1, 106-110 (2008). 25. Pine Island Glacier is one of the largest ice streams in Antarctica, and drains much of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. However, data from Autosubs that did return indicates that more warm Circumpolar Deep Water has been in Pine Island Bay in recent summers22. It tweeted for awhile. Rignot, E., Jacobs, S., Mouginot, J. Marine sediment cores and swath bathymetry from ships can image the sea floor and detect and date the former behaviour of this ice stream. It calved a large iceberg in 2001, and in 2011 a huge rift developed on the ice shelf. It is buttressed by a large ice shelf that is currently thinning8, and the ice stream itself has a negative mass balance (the melting is not replaced by snowfall)3, it is flowing faster9, and the grounding line is retreating further and further up into the bay. Calving events like this donât contribute to sea level rise directly, because floating ice shelves are already displacing water. Free online lecture: The Glaciers are melting: What happens next? Journal of Glaciology 48, 247-256 (2002). Under the A1B “Business as Usual” emissions scenario from the IPCC (2.6°C warming by 2100), Gladstone et al. Ice Flow of the Antarctic Ice Sheet. The ice sheet in this area is grounded up to 2000 m below sea level, making it intrinsically unstable6 and susceptible to rapid melting at its base, and to rapid migration of the grounding line up the ice stream7 (see Marine Ice Sheet Instability). Pine Island Glacier … Mass loss from this basin doubled from 1996 to 2006, and it is the largest ice loss in Antarctica. If you examine the MODIS imagery are you sure about the July 2013 calving date, no separation occurred until November 2013? From 12300 to 10600 years ago, there was a large ice shelf throughout the Amundsen Sea Embayment. It reached its current position around 10,000 years ago27. Nature 484, 502-505 (2012). Meanwhile, Pine Island Glacier seems to have stabilized for now. What is concerning is the current intense melting, thinning and glacier acceleration observed on Pine Island Glacier ice shelf22. It quickly shattered into a constellation of smaller icebergs, the largest of which was big enough to earn itself a name: B-49. This iceberg was finally calved in July 2013. The images below show how much of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, especially around Pine Island Glacier, is grounded well below sea level. This gives a total of 33 to 132 cm of global total sea level rise by 2100. 13. Sea ice keeps ships away, making it difficult to access the ice stream from the ocean. It periodically, every 10 or so years, calves large icebergs – but on their own, they are not worrisome. âThe event will undoubtedly evolve,â he says. Quaternary Science Reviews 21, 1879-1897 (2002). Pine Island Glacier has long been on the radar screen of Antarcticresearchers. (Find out why it's our fault that West Antarctica is melting.). The first reference to this being the weak underbelly is Hughes (1981). This ice stream is unlikely to collapse in our lifetime – but the same cannot be said for future generations. You can use Google Earth below to explore the ice stream. Glaciers are frozen rivers that channel larger, land-bound ice sheets into the ocean. 10. 16. The recession of the ice stream was also controlled by the presence or absence of ice shelves. 2008, you can see that mass losses from Pine Island Glacier and Thwaites Glacier dominate Antarctic Ice Sheet ice losses. Pine Island Glacier ice shelf periodically calves huge icebergs. As anticipated, Pine Island Glacier, known as PIG for short, in Antarctica has just spawned a huge iceberg. In the hopes of finding answers, scientists with the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration recently used a hot water drill to bore a hole through hundreds of feet of ice in order to access Thwaitesâ grounding zone. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 280, 51-60 (2009). De Angelis, H. & Skvarca, P. Glacier surge after ice shelf collapse. That, in turn, is related to shifting wind patterns that are pushing warm, deep ocean water onto the continental shelf. It’s about eight times the size of New York, or half the size of Greater London, at 720 km2. The red line shows where the 2017 Pine Island Glacier iceberg broke off. This melts the ice shelf from below24, and this melting is probably the cause of the observed ice stream thinning, acceleration and grounding line recession25, which is contributing to a sea level rise of 1.2 mm per decade3. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Geophysical Research Letters 36, L17501 (2009). Low lying cloud often makes flying hazardous. & Scheuchl, B. But as with other recent calvings at Pine Island and other West Antarctic glaciers, the primary driver was the influx of warm subsurface water into the Amundsen Sea Embayment, which is causing ice to melt from below. âAll in all, not good news for the inland ice flowing out from Pine Island Glacier,â Shuman says. Are these on-going changes unprecedented, or are they part of the normal behaviour for the glacier? Jacobs, S.S., Jenkins, A., Giulivi, C.F. Pine Island Glacier is currently flowing very quickly and it is accelerating, causing thinning. West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapse – the fall and rise of a paradigm. & Skvarca, P. Glacier acceleration and thinning after ice shelf collapse in the Larsen B embayment, Antarctica. This data will help fill in key gaps in scientistsâ understanding of grounding zone melt dynamics, allowing them to better predict future changes, including the likelihood of runaway collapse. Itâs also in line with the bigger picture of climate change. A series of rifts that satellites have been monitoring since early 2019 grew rapidly last week. http://glacierchange.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/pine-island-glacier-2013-iceberg-rift-update/ “Once satellite measurementsof Antarctica started to accumulate and we began to see which places werechanging, … “The weak underbelly of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet”. The heightened attention on Pine Island led scientists to spot "growing cracks" in satellite images of the glacier last year. Hughes, T. A simple holistic hypothesis for the self-destruction of ice sheets. 19. 3. Is the West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapsing? As anticipated, Pine Island Glacier, known as PIG for short, in Antarctica has just spawned a huge iceberg. Nature 271, 321-325 (1978). 28. Researchers operating special ship-mounted sonar gear found a series of 25-mile-wide channels in the seafloor that bring warm water to the base of the Thwaites and Pine Island Glaciers. From ice-shelf tributary to tidewater glacier: continued rapid glacier recession, acceleration and thinning of Röhss Glacier following the 1995 collapse of the Prince Gustav Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula. An iceberg has broken off Pine Island Glacier (PIG) on the edge of Antarctica, according to satellite images taken Tuesday by the European Space Agency (ESA). Pine Island Glacier is one of the largest ice streams in Antarctica. Do we want that? It is out of balance. Journal of Geophysical Research-Earth Surface 112(2007). West Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier (PIG) is the fastest-melting glacier in Antarctica, making it the single biggest contributor to global sea-level rise. … They can measure changes in ice extent and thinning from satellites4,5, and they have fired javelins loaded with sensors onto the ice surface, into places with too many crevasses for people to travel. Located along the coast of the Amundsen Sea in West Antarctica, the enormous Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers already contribute around 5 percent of global sea-level rise. The recently calved iceberg may be 720 km2, but that’s the least of this ice stream’s worries. âWhat is unsettling is that the daily data stream [from satellites] reveals the dramatic pace at which climate is redefining the face of Antarctica,â said Mark Drinkwater, senior scientist and cryosphere specialist at the European Space Agency, in a press release. As Pine Islandâs ice shelf weakens, so does this buttressing force, which can hasten the flow of ice from the land. âThe events of the past five to 10 years seem to be exceptional for the area compared to the retreat in the past 70 years,â Bert Wouters, a satellite remote sensing expert at TU Delft in the Netherlands who has been monitoring Pine Island Glacier closely, writes in an email. & Padman, L. Antarctic ice-sheet loss driven by basal melting of ice shelves. Home » Antarctica » West Antarctic Ice Sheet » Pine Island Glacier, Investigating Pine Island Glacier | Why is Pine Island Glacier important? Journal of Glaciology 57, 397-406 (2011). Meltwater production underneath the ice shelf increased by 50% from 1994 to 2011; this increased melting results from stronger sub-ice-shelf circulation. Pine Island Glacier birthed icebergs in January 2001, November 2007, December 2011, August 2015 and September 2017. Antarctic supraglacial lakes and ice-shelf collapse, Dealing with uncertainty: predicting future sea level rise, Degree day models: Modelling glacier melt, A introduction to the hierarchy of ice-sheet models, The role of debris cover on glacier ablation, Introduction to glaciated valley landsystems, Cirque glaciation landsystem of upland Britain, Subpolar landsystems of James Ross Island, Alpine icefield landsystem of upland Britain, Plateau icefield landsystem of upland Britain, Quantifying ice sheet thinning using cosmogenic nuclide ages, Precision and accuracy in glacial geology, Ice stream initiation on the northern Antarctic Peninsula, Geophysical Surveys: The Gamburtsev Mountains, Glacial geomorphology of the Patagonian Ice Sheet, The westerly winds and the Patagonian Ice Sheet, Glaciolacustrine Landforms in Patagonia, Chile, Introduction to the Glaciation of Britain, The LGM British-Irish Ice Sheet: an introduction, Shelf-edge margins of the British-Irish Ice Sheet, Unlocking ice-flow pathways using glacial erratics, Introduction to the Glacial Landsystems of the Younger Dryas glaciation of Britain, Teaching resources on the last British-Irish Ice Sheet, Post-16 education and A-Level content on AntarcticGlaciers, A-Level Geography Fieldwork Investigation. http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/11/is-pine-island-glacier-the-weak-underbelly-of-the-west-antarctic-ice-sheet/. & Vaughan, D.G. Wingham, D.J., Wallis, D.W. & Shepherd, A. Spatial and temporal evolution of Pine Island Glacier thinning, 1995-2006. It is remote from any research bases, so flying there means making multiple short flights, making fuel depots to allow scientists to hop to the location. August 7, 2020. Releasing a huge iceberg, by itself, is a normal process, unrelated to warming, but increased calving may occur in the future if the ice shelf continues to thin, which would make it susceptible to plate bending and hydrofracture processes21. Scambos, T., Fricker, H.A., Liu, C.-C., Bohlander, J., Fastook, J., Sargent, A., Massom, R. & Wu, A.-M. Ice shelf disintegration by plate bending and hydro-fracture: Satellite observations and model results of the 2008 Wilkins ice shelf break-ups. A huge piece of ice broke away from Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica, permanently changing the shape of the … Gladstone, R.M., Lee, V., Rougier, J., Payne, A.J., Hellmer, H., Le Brocq, A., Shepherd, A., Edwards, T.L., Gregory, J. It is important that we take a longer-term perspective of the current changes observed on Pine Island Glacier. Since 2012, the glacier has been shedding 58 billion tons of ice a year, making the biggest single contribution to global sea level rise of any ice stream on the planet. It suggests: However, outlet glaciers like Pine Island act as a brake on the flow of land-bound ice, which does raise sea levels as it empties into the sea. âAlthough iceberg âcalvingâ from floating Antarctic ice shelves is a natural, ongoing process, the recent calving event of Pine Island Glacier was particularly large and such calving events from this glacier appear to be becoming more frequent,â says Alison Banwell, a glaciologist at CIRES, University of Colorado, Boulder. The grounding line receded by more than 20 km from 1996 to 20092. Pine Island Glacier and its neighbor Thwaites Glacier are the gateway to a massive cache of frozen water, one that would raise global sea levels by four feet if it were all to spill into the sea. 27. Pine Island Glacier drains much of the marine-based West Antarctic Ice Sheet, and it has a configuration susceptible to rapid disintegration and recession. Jakobsson, M., Anderson, J.B., Nitsche, F.O., Dowdeswell, J.A., Gyllencreutz, R., Kirchner, N., Mohammed, R., O’Regan, M., Alley, R.B., Andandakrishnan, S., Eriksson, B., Kirshner, A., Fernandez, R., Stolldorf, T., Minzoni, R. & Majewski, W. Geological record of ice shelf break-up and grounding line retreat, Pine Island Bay, West Antarctica. This threshold has yet to be passed. The iceberg that broke from the Pine Island Glacier in western Antarctica on Saturday measures some 100 square miles. The Pine Island Glacier is one of the fastest-retreating glaciers in Antarctica, and along with the Thwaites Glacier nearby, it’s a subject of close scientific monitoring to determine whether … Pine Island Glacier is one of the most dynamic features of the Antarctic Ice Sheet. 20. (2012) predict recession over the next 200 years with huge uncertainty over the rate of retreat, and full collapse of the trunk of Pine Island Glacier during the 22nd Century remains a possibility15. & Scheuchl, B. & van Meijgaard, E. Recent Antarctic ice mass loss from radar interferometry and regional climate modelling. | Pine Island Glacier ice shelf | Pine Island Glacier: the longer term view | Conclusions | References | Comments |. You can also see how the surface of both the ice stream and ice shelf is heavily crevassed, making it difficult to walk on the surface of the ice. 11. Hughes T. (1981). Joughin, I., Smith, B.E. Pine Island Glacier is of interest to scientists because it is changing rapidly; it is thinning, accelerating and receding3, all of which contribute directly to sea level, and its future under a warming climate is uncertain. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 364, 1637-1655 (2006). Pine Island Glacier is one of the largest ice streams in Antarctica. 5. Despite this interest, Pine Island Glacier is difficult to access. Some studies have suggested that the entire main trunk of Pine Island Glacier could unground and become afloat within 100 years14, but more recent modelling efforts suggest that much longer timescales are needed to unground the entire trunk2. Quaternary Science Reviews 30, 1829-1845 (2011). 18. Can you identify the ice shelf? Rignot, E., Bamber, J.L., van den Broeke, M.R., Davis, C., Li, Y., van de Berg, W.J. All rights reserved. Learn how your comment data is processed. On the ice-covered edge of a remote West Antarctic bay, the continentâs most imperiled glaciers threaten to redraw Earthâs coastlines.
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