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This is a region of very rapid warming, and this has resulted in a whole suite of glaciological changes. How do glaciers respond to climate change, how are they related and linked, and what is driving these changes? The ice-core record indicates that carbon dioxide and temperature co-varied over the last 400 thousand years, which suggests a close link between these ‘greenhouse gases’ and temperature.

This article summarises glaciers and climate change around the Antarctic Peninsula. This image shows the instrumental record of global average w:temperatures as compiled by the w: NASA’s w: Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Ice core records show that methane and carbon dioxide atmospheric concentrations are higher than at any point in the last 650,000 years (quick check – do you understand the difference between ice shelves, sea ice, ice bergs and marine-terminating glaciers? Higher air temperatures around the Antarctic Peninsula contribute to ice shelf collapse by increasing the amount of meltwater ponding on the surface, you have a recipe for rapid ice shelf disintegration.

Surface lowering ceases at about 400m in altitude across all the glaciers, which may be due to increased high-altitude accumulation. calculate that the Antarctic Ice Sheet as a whole currently contributes about 0.19 mm±0.05 mm per year to global sea level rise, which is largely from the Antarctic Peninsula, the Amundsen Sea sector (including Pine Island Glacier), and which is partly balanced by increased ice accumulation in East Antarctica.

These marine-terminating glaciers are affected by both oceanic and atmospheric warming. Most modern sea level rise, and sea level rise predicted over the next 100 years, comes from ocean expansion and the melting of small glaciers and ice caps.

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The rapid thinning of the Pine Island Glacier ice shelf is caused by warm oceanic water at depth that reaches the underside of ice shelves by travelling along troughs on the continental shelf. W., Leventer, A., Burnett, A., Bindschadler, R., Convey, P.

, which is significant, as their mass balance is more directly controlled by temperature and precipitation, compared with marine-terminating glaciers, which respond non-linearly to climate forcing. & Kirby, M.) 61-68 (American Geophysical Union, Antarctic Research Series, Volume 79, Washington, D.

Glaciers are accelerating across the Antarctic Peninsula, and combined with the thinning and recession observed across the Antarctic Peninsula, indicates that there is a climatically-driven rise in sea level from this region. Once warm ocean water can access the underside of a glacier, melting from below exacerbates thinning from above, resulting in increased and rapid glacier thinning. Glaciers are thinning and receding in response to warmer temperatures, and thinning glaciers are easier to float.

A paper published recently in showed that glaciers around the Antarctic Peninsula are thinning. Recent rapid regional climate warming on the Antarctic Peninsula.

12 glaciers around the Antarctic Peninsula showed near-frontal surface lowering since the 1960s, with higher rates of thinning for glaciers on the north-western Antarctic Peninsula.

With one particularly warm summer, a thinned ice shelf that is close to its threshold is liable to break up very quickly as meltwater ponding on its surface propagates downwards and initiates iceberg calving by hydrofracture. Recent Antarctic Peninsula warming relative to Holocene climate and ice-shelf history.

Some of these ice shelves have collapsed for the first time The Larsen Ice Shelf collapsed dramatically and very rapidly in 2002, and glaciers that previously fed into the Larsen Ice Shelf have since accelerated, thinned and receded. A., Arrowsmith, C., Fleet, L., Triest, J., Sime, L.

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Pritchard and Vaughan (2007) argue that thinning as a result of a negative mass balance will reduce the effective stress of a glacier’s bed near the margin, reducing basal resistance and increasing sliding. We know that basal melting of ice shelves drives ice sheet loss 25, 279-294 (2005).

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