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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 9, issue 3
The Cryosphere, 9, 957-969, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-9-957-2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
The Cryosphere, 9, 957-969, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-9-957-2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 09 May 2015

Research article | 09 May 2015

Evolution of surface velocities and ice discharge of Larsen B outlet glaciers from 1995 to 2013

J. Wuite1, H. Rott2,1, M. Hetzenecker1, D. Floricioiu3, J. De Rydt4, G. H. Gudmundsson4, T. Nagler1, and M. Kern5 J. Wuite et al.
  • 1ENVEO IT GmbH, Innsbruck, Austria
  • 2Institute for Meteorology and Geophysics, University of Innsbruck, Austria
  • 3Institute for Remote Sensing Technology, German Aerospace Center, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
  • 4British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK
  • 5ESA-ESTEC, Noordwijk, the Netherlands

Abstract. We use repeat-pass SAR data to produce detailed maps of surface motion covering the glaciers draining into the former Larsen B Ice Shelf, Antarctic Peninsula, for different epochs between 1995 and 2013. We combine the velocity maps with estimates of ice thickness to analyze fluctuations of ice discharge. The collapse of the central and northern sections of the ice shelf in 2002 led to a near-immediate acceleration of tributary glaciers as well as of the remnant ice shelf in Scar Inlet. Velocities of most of the glaciers discharging directly into the ocean remain to date well above the velocities of the pre-collapse period. The response of individual glaciers differs and velocities show significant temporal fluctuations, implying major variations in ice discharge as well. Due to reduced velocity and ice thickness the ice discharge of Crane Glacier decreased from 5.02 Gt a−1 in 2007 to 1.72 Gt a−1 in 2013, whereas Hektoria and Green glaciers continue to show large temporal fluctuations in response to successive stages of frontal retreat. The velocity on Scar Inlet ice shelf increased 2–3-fold since 1995, with the largest increase in the first years after the break-up of the main section of Larsen B. Flask and Leppard glaciers, the largest tributaries to Scar Inlet ice shelf, accelerated. In 2013 their discharge was 38% and 46% higher than in 1995.

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We present new analysis of satellite data showing the variability of glacier velocities in the Larsen B area, Antarctic Peninsula, back to 1995. Velocity data and estimates of ice thickness are used to derive ice discharge at different epochs. Velocities of the glaciers remain to date well above the velocities of the pre-collapse period. The response of individual glaciers differs, and velocities show significant temporal fluctuations, implying major variations in ice discharge and mass balance.
We present new analysis of satellite data showing the variability of glacier velocities in the...
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