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Significant Ice Retreat in the Region Patagonia - Antarctic Peninsula Oberved by ERS SAR

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Citation:
Rott, H. , Skvarca, P. , Rack, W. and Stuefer, M. (1997): Significant Ice Retreat in the Region Patagonia - Antarctic Peninsula Oberved by ERS SAR , ESA SP-414 (Proc. of the 3rd ERS Symp.) .
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Abstract:

Areal changes and flow dynamics of glaciers of the Southern Patagonian Icefield (SPI) and of northern Larsen Ice Shelf (LIS) on the Antarctic Peninsula have been investigated based on ERS-1 and ERS-2 SAR data and on field work. After a period of steady retreat, coinciding with regional atmospheric warming during the last five decades, the two northernmost sections of the LIS (north of 65°S) disintegrated within a few days in early 1995. At the same time a large calving event occurred also in the section of the LIS south of 65°S. Recent observations of the ice front and of rifting zones indicate that the retreat of this section might accelerate in the near future. Studies of major outlet glaciers on the east side of the SPI, which extends from 48.3°S to 51.5°S, revealed significant retreat for the majority of glaciers. As an example, areal changes of Upsala Glacier, calving into Lago Argentino, are shown. The retreat accelerated considerably after 1993 resulting in unusually large calving events. The region Patagonia - Antarctic Peninsula, located in the west wind zone, reveals steep climatic gradients and therefore is particularly sensitive to climate change as indicated by the retreat of glaciers and ice shelves.

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