The Thinning of Pine Island Glacier: Model Development and Study of the Importance of Ice-Shelf Drag on Inland Ice

Project: Research project

Project Details




This award provides support for a 2 year modeling effort to study the dynamics of Pine Island Glacier (PIG). The discharge from the PIG constitutes the largest mass loss from any single West Antarctic ice stream. Satellite observations indicate that this outlet glacier is experiencing ongoing thinning and acceleration. The emphasis of this work will be on understanding the cause and the near-term projection of the observed thinning of PIG. Model experiments will address the hypothesis that the observed changes were caused by the loss of a buttressing ice shelf, and that the changes will continue in the form of an upglacier propagating wave of thinning and acceleration. To perform this work a numerical model of the coupled mass, energy, and momentum balance of Pine Island Glacier basin will be developed. The model will comprise four modular components, which will be coupled and then benchmarked against the European Ice Sheet Modeling Inititative (EISMINT) model intercomparison. The model will then be applied to the thinning of Pine Island Glacier using likely ice-shelf histories and possible basal boundary conditions to learn which may be accurate and to assess possible future behavior. The primary expected result will be an improved understanding of the importance of ice-shelf buttressing and the potential for inland thinning due to the reduction of ice-shelf drag.

Effective start/end date1/1/0212/31/05


  • National Science Foundation: $168,974.00


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