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Unsteady flow inferred for Thwaites Glacier, and comparison with Pine Island Glacier, West Antarctica

  • Author(s): Bamber, J;
  • Rignot, E
  • et al.

We present a comparison of surface velocities in 1996, derived from interferometric synthetic aperture radar, with an estimate of the long-term, depth-averaged velocity based on the assumption of steady-state flow for both Pine Island Glacier and its neighbour, Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica. The results show that the former was close to balance conditions in 1996 (within 9%). The ice flux and velocity of the latter is significantly different in magnitude and distribution from that required to maintain the basin in a state of mass balance over the long term. The balance flux was found to be 32 ± 19% less than the measured outgoing flux. We conclude that the mass imbalance and dramatic difference in the pattern of flow is most likely due to a substantial change in the flow regime of Thwaites Glacier in the recent past.

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