Published In

Journal of Glaciology

Document Type


Publication Date



Ice sheets -- Antarctica, Glaciers -- Antarctica, Ice -- Dynamics, Glacial landforms -- Antarctica, Ice sheets -- Mathematical models, Mass budget (Geophysics)


We synthesize previously published remote-sensing observations, radar data and model output to obtain a ~1000 year ice flow history for the Siple Coast ice-stream system in West Antarctica to investigate the timing and magnitude of changes in mass flux. The synthesized history shows significant short-term variability in ice-stream shear margin and grounding line position due to internal variability of the coupled system. The chronology highlights the interplay between adjacent ice streams, which implies that the behavior of any individual ice stream should not be examined in isolation. Furthermore, individual events cannot be fully interpreted without an understanding of the broad-scale, long-term variability in the ice sheet. In the context of this millennium-scale history, we interpret the relatively recent stagnation of Kamb Ice Stream (KIS) as just one stage in the thermodynamic cycle of an ice stream in this region. The changes in mass balance that result from the KIS stagnation may thus be viewed as century-scale ?noise? relative to the longer-term trend. Understanding and characterizing this noise is a necessary step before accurate model-based predictions of ice-sheet mass balance for the next century can be made.


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



Persistent Identifier

Included in

Geology Commons