New boundary conditions for the West Antarctic Ice Sheet: Subglacial topography of the Thwaites and Smith glacier catchments

John W. Holt, Donald D. Blankenship, David L. Morse, Duncan A. Young, Matthew E. Peters, Scott D. Kempf, Thomas G. Richter, David G. Vaughan, Hugh F.J. Corr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

107 Scopus citations

Abstract

Airborne radar sounding over the Thwaites Glacier (TG) catchment and its surroundings provides the first comprehensive view of subglacial topography in this dynamic part of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) and reveals that TG is underlain by a single, broad basin fed by a dendritic pattern of valleys, while Smith Glacier lies within an extremely deep, narrow trench. Subglacial topography in the TG catchment slopes inland from a broad, low-relief coastal sill to the thickest ice of the WAIS and makes deep connections to both Pine Island Glacier and the Ross Sea Embayment enabling dynamic interactions across the WAIS during deglaciation. Simple isostatic rebound modeling shows that most of this landscape would be submarine after deglaciation, aside from an island chain near the present-day Ross-Amundsen ice divide. The lack of topographic confinement along TG's eastern margin implies that it may continue to widen in response to grounding line retreat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL09502
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume33
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - May 16 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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    Holt, J. W., Blankenship, D. D., Morse, D. L., Young, D. A., Peters, M. E., Kempf, S. D., Richter, T. G., Vaughan, D. G., & Corr, H. F. J. (2006). New boundary conditions for the West Antarctic Ice Sheet: Subglacial topography of the Thwaites and Smith glacier catchments. Geophysical Research Letters, 33(9), [L09502]. https://doi.org/10.1029/2005GL025561