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Annals of Glaciology

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Filchner Ice Shelf (Antarctica), Glaciers -- Antarctica -- Filchner Ice Shelf, Glaciers -- Antarctica -- Ronne Ice Shelf, Glaciology -- Antarctica, Ice shelves -- Antarctica -- Mathematical models


Comparison between numerical model ice-shelf flow simulations and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) interferograms is used to study ice-flow dynamics at the Hemmen Ice Rise (HIR) and Lassiter Coast (LC) corners of the iceberg-calving front of the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf, Antarctica. The interferograms are constructed from SAR images provided by the European Space Agency's remote-sensing satellites (ERS-lj2). Narrow bands of large shear strain rate are observed along the boundaries between fastflowing ice-shelf ice and no-flow boundaries. Large rifts, opened where the ice shelf separates from the coast, appear to be filled with a melange of sea ice, ice-shelf fragments, and snow. Trial and error is used to find the best match between artificial interferograms, constructed from modelled ice flow, and the observed interferograms. We find that at both HIR and LC, ice within the coastal boundary layers must be significantly softer than adjacent ice. At HIR the rift-filling ice melange transmits stress from one ice-shelf fragment to another; thus it must have mechanical competence and must moderate both separation of the ice shelf from the coast and the release of icebergs. However, the ice melange along the LC does not. The difference may be related to melange thickness, which could vary in the two locations due to differences in sub-ice-shelf oceanography or perhaps to regional atmospheric warming, currently under way along the Antarctic Peninsula. Future warming could weaken the melange ice around HIR as well, causing the ice shelf to lose contact with that shelf-front anchor.


Originally appeared in Annals of Glaciology, published by the International Glaciological Society. Article can be found at

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