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A complete glacier inventory of the Antarctic Peninsula based on Landsat7 images from 2000-2002 and other pre-existing datasets


Huber, Jacqueline; Cook, Alison J; Paul, Frank; Zemp, Michael (2016). A complete glacier inventory of the Antarctic Peninsula based on Landsat7 images from 2000-2002 and other pre-existing datasets. Earth System Science Data Discussions:Epub ahead of print.

Abstract

The glaciers on the Antarctic Peninsula (AP) potentially make a large contribution to sea level rise. However, this contribution has been difficult to estimate, as no complete glacier inventory (outlines, attributes, separation from the ice sheet) has been available. This work fills the gap and presents a new glacier inventory of the AP north of 70° S, based on digitally combining pre-existing datasets with GIS techniques. Rock outcrops have been removed from the glacier basin outlines of Cook et al. (2014) by digital intersection with the latest layer of the Antarctic Digital Database (Burton-Johnson et al., 2016). Glacier-specific topographic parameters (e.g. mean elevation, slope and aspect) as well as hypsometry have been calculated from the Digital Elevation Model (DEM) of Cook et al. (2012). We also assigned connectivity levels to all glaciers following the concept by Rastner et al. (2012). Moreover, the bedrock dataset of Huss and Farinotti (2014) enabled us to add ice thickness and volume for each glacier.
The new inventory is available from the GLIMS database (doi:10.7265/N5V98602) and consists of 1589 glaciers covering an area of 95 273 km2, slightly more than the 90 000 km2 covered by glaciers surrounding the Greenland Ice Sheet. The total ice volume is 34 590 km3, of which 1/3 is below sea level. The hypsometric curve has a bimodal shape due to the unique topography of the AP, which consists mainly of ice caps with outlet glaciers. Most of the glacierized area is located at 200–500 m a.s.l. with a secondary maximum at 1500–1900 m. Approximately 63 % of the area is drained by marine-terminating glaciers, and ice shelf tributary glaciers cover 35 % of the area. This combination indicates a high sensitivity of the glaciers to climate change for several reasons: (1) only slightly rising equilibrium line altitudes would expose huge additional areas to ablation, (2) rising ocean temperatures increase melting of marine terminating glaciers, and (3) ice shelves have a buttressing effect on their feeding glaciers and their collapse would alter glacier dynamics and strongly enhance ice loss (Rott et al., 2011). The new inventory should facilitate modelling of the related effects using approaches tailored to glaciers for a more accurate determination of their future evolution and contribution to sea level rise.

Abstract

The glaciers on the Antarctic Peninsula (AP) potentially make a large contribution to sea level rise. However, this contribution has been difficult to estimate, as no complete glacier inventory (outlines, attributes, separation from the ice sheet) has been available. This work fills the gap and presents a new glacier inventory of the AP north of 70° S, based on digitally combining pre-existing datasets with GIS techniques. Rock outcrops have been removed from the glacier basin outlines of Cook et al. (2014) by digital intersection with the latest layer of the Antarctic Digital Database (Burton-Johnson et al., 2016). Glacier-specific topographic parameters (e.g. mean elevation, slope and aspect) as well as hypsometry have been calculated from the Digital Elevation Model (DEM) of Cook et al. (2012). We also assigned connectivity levels to all glaciers following the concept by Rastner et al. (2012). Moreover, the bedrock dataset of Huss and Farinotti (2014) enabled us to add ice thickness and volume for each glacier.
The new inventory is available from the GLIMS database (doi:10.7265/N5V98602) and consists of 1589 glaciers covering an area of 95 273 km2, slightly more than the 90 000 km2 covered by glaciers surrounding the Greenland Ice Sheet. The total ice volume is 34 590 km3, of which 1/3 is below sea level. The hypsometric curve has a bimodal shape due to the unique topography of the AP, which consists mainly of ice caps with outlet glaciers. Most of the glacierized area is located at 200–500 m a.s.l. with a secondary maximum at 1500–1900 m. Approximately 63 % of the area is drained by marine-terminating glaciers, and ice shelf tributary glaciers cover 35 % of the area. This combination indicates a high sensitivity of the glaciers to climate change for several reasons: (1) only slightly rising equilibrium line altitudes would expose huge additional areas to ablation, (2) rising ocean temperatures increase melting of marine terminating glaciers, and (3) ice shelves have a buttressing effect on their feeding glaciers and their collapse would alter glacier dynamics and strongly enhance ice loss (Rott et al., 2011). The new inventory should facilitate modelling of the related effects using approaches tailored to glaciers for a more accurate determination of their future evolution and contribution to sea level rise.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:15 Nov 2016 17:44
Last Modified:23 Sep 2017 02:20
Publisher:Copernicus Publications
ISSN:1866-3591
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2016-47

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