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Evaluating the Retreat, Stabilization, and Regrowth of Crane Glacier against Marine Ice Cliff Process Models
  • Caroline T. Needell,
  • Nicholas Holschuh
Caroline T. Needell
Amherst College, Amherst College
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Nicholas Holschuh
Amherst College, Amherst College

Corresponding Author:nholschuh@amherst.edu

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Abstract

The fastest projected rates of sea level rise appear in models which include “the marine ice cliff instability (MICI),” a hypothesized but mostly unobserved process defined by rapid, brittle failure of terminal ice cliffs that outpaces viscous relaxation and ice-shelf formation. The response of Crane Glacier to the Larsen B Ice Shelf collapse has been invoked as observational evidence of this process, but limited data coverage in space and time has limited our ability to meaningfully refine our understanding of cliff failure processes using that event. Updates to Crane’s subglacial topography show that much of its terminus retreat occurred in floating, not grounded ice, but its retreat, arrest, and regrowth over the last decade indicate brittle (not viscous) processes dominated during the 2 years following ice shelf collapse. If retreat occurred by cliff failure, maximum cliff heights would have been 111 m, consistent with process models that incorporate damaged ice.