Contribution of Western Antarctic Peninsula glaciers to sea level rise: Separation of the dynamic and climatic components
This award supports a project to determine the current mass balance of selected glaciers of the Western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) and adjacent islands, including King George Island and Livingston Island. A major goal is to discriminate the climatic and dynamic components of the current mass budget. The dynamic component will be assessed using a flux gate approach. Glacier velocity fields will be derived by offset tracking on repeat SAR satellite imagery, and ice thicknesses across grounding lines or near terminus will be approximated from a new methods based on mass continuity. The surface mass balance will be computed from a spatially distributed temperature-index mass-balance model forced by temperature and precipitation data from regional climate models. Our results will provide improved mass budget estimates of Western Antarctic Peninsula glaciers and a more thorough understanding of the ratio between the climatic and dynamic components. The techniques to be developed will be applicable to other glaciers in the region allowing regional scale mass budgets to be derived. The broader impacts of this work are that glacier wastage is currently the most important contributor to global sea level rise and the Antarctic Peninsula has been identified as one of the largest single contributors. Future sea-level rise has major societal, economic and ecological implications. The activity will foster new partnerships through collaboration with European and South American colleagues. The project will form the base of of a postdoctoral research fellowship. It will also provide training of undergraduate and graduate students through inclusion of data and results in course curriculums.
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