Paul Summers

Stanford

“Mechanisms of Antarctic Shear Margin Migration”

Ice loss from Antarctic ice streams is a major source of uncertainty for future sea levels. I investigate the processes controlling ice stream width, an important factor for future ice loss. Through our research, we hope to reduce the uncertainty in sea level predictions.

ABSTRACT

Antarctica ice mass loss is currently a major contributor to sea level rise, and is forecast to be an increasingly large contributor to future sea level rise and uncertainty in sea levels. Antarctic ice mass loss is primarily due to iceberg calving at the coast, rather than ice melting into liquid water run off. This ice is transported to the coast in narrow corridors of rapidly sliding ice, termed ‘Ice Streams’. The width and speed of these Ice Streams are controlled by processes within their boundaries, regions of high shear strain rates where fast moving ice meets slow, stagnant ice. I focus on the shear margins of Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica where there is currently an ongoing acceleration of ice loss in recent decades. I investigate how the width of Thwaites Glacier might change in response to the ongoing ice loss from this region. Our findings indicate widening of the inland Thwaites Glacier, potentially increasing ice transport to the coast.
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