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Published February 2023 | Published + Supplemental Material
Journal Article Open

Inferring Tide‐Induced Ephemeral Grounding in an Ice‐Shelf‐Stream System: Rutford Ice Stream, West Antarctica


Antarctic ice shelves play a key role in regulating the rate of ice flow in tributary ice streams. Temporal variations in the associated ice-shelf buttressing stress are observed to impact ice flow in glaciers and ice streams. Ephemeral grounding induced by tides is an important mechanism for modulating the buttressing stress. Here, we develop an approach to inferring variations in 3-D surface displacements at an ice-shelf-stream system that explicitly accounts for ephemeral grounding. Using a temporally dense nine-month-long synthetic-aperture radar image acquisition campaign collected over Rutford Ice Stream, West Antarctica, by the 4-satellite COSMO-SkyMed constellation, we infer the ephemeral grounding zones and the spatiotemporal variation of the fortnightly ice-flow variability. We find ephemeral grounding zones along the western ice-shelf margin as well as a few prominent ephemeral grounding points in the central trunk and in the vicinity of the grounding zone. Our observations provide evidence for tide-modulated buttressing stress and the temporally asymmetric response of ice-shelf flow to tidal forcing. Long-term oceanic warming and ice-shelf thinning will cause the loss of ephemeral grounding and decrease in ice-shelf buttressing stress.

Additional Information

© 2023. American Geophysical Union. The authors thank ASI for their efforts in making the observational campaign at Rutford Ice Stream successful and the SAR data available. M.Z. thanks Andrew F. Thompson and Victor C. Tsai for insightful discussions. B.M. acknowledges NSF-NERC Awards 1853918 and 1739031. The authors thank editor Olga Sergienko, Alexander Robel, and an anonymous reviwer for their comments that help improve the manuscript. Data Availability Statement: The velocity and displacement field components (Zhong et al., 2022) are archived at https://zenodo.org/record/6615587#.Yp1DbGDMLao. Software used to perform feature tracking on SAR images (Zhu et al., 2022) is freely available at https://github.com/lijun99/cuAmpcor. Software used to infer ephemeral grounding (Zhong & Simons, 2022) is freely available at https://github.com/mzzhong/fourDvel2.

Attached Files

Published - JGR_Earth_Surface_-_2023_-_Zhong_-_Inferring_Tide‐Induced_Ephemeral_Grounding_in_an_Ice‐Shelf‐Stream_System_Rutford_Ice.pdf

Supplemental Material - 2022jf006789-sup-0001-supporting_information_si-s01.pdf

Supplemental Material - 2022jf006789-sup-0002-data_set_si-s01.txt

Supplemental Material - 2022jf006789-sup-0003-movie_si-s01.mp4

Supplemental Material - 2022jf006789-sup-0004-movie_si-s02.mp4

Supplemental Material - 2022jf006789-sup-0005-movie_si-s03.mp4



Additional details

August 22, 2023
October 23, 2023