Glacial surge seen when ice shelf broke

Sept. 21, 2004 at 12:09 PM

GREENBELT, Md., Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Two NASA-funded studies reported Tuesday profound increases in the flow of glaciers into the open ocean following the breakup of ice shelves in the Antarctic.

Large ice shelves in the Antarctic Peninsula disintegrated in 1995 and 2002, as a result of climate warming. Almost immediately after the 2002 collapse, researchers observed nearby glaciers flowing up to eight times faster than prior to the breakup. The speed-up also caused glacier elevations to drop, lowering them by as much as 124 feet in six months.

Researchers from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., used data from NASA, Canadian and European satellites.

"These two papers clearly illustrate, for the first time, the relationship between ice shelf collapses caused by climate warming, and accelerated glacier flow," said Eric Rignot, a JPL researcher and lead author of one of the studies.

The reports appeared Tuesday in the Geophysical Research Letters journal.

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