Grounding line variability and subglacial lake drainage on Pine Island Glacier, Antarctica


We produced a 6 year time series of differential tidal displacement for Pine Island Ice Shelf, Antarctica, using speckle-tracking methods applied to fine-resolution TerraSAR-X data. These results reveal that the main grounding line has maintained a relatively steady position over the last 6 years, following the speedup that terminated in { extasciitilde}2009. In the middle of the shelf, there are grounded spots that migrate downstream over the 6 year record. Examination of high-resolution digital elevation models reveals that these grounded spots form where deep keels (thickness anomalies) advect over an approximately flow-parallel bathymetric high, maintaining intermittent contact with the bed. These data sets also reveal several subsidence and uplift events associated with subglacial lake drainages in the fast-flowing region above the grounding line. Although these drainages approximately double the rate of subglacial water flow over periods of a few weeks, they have no discernible effect on horizontal flow speed.

Geophysical Research Letters