Glacier Changes in the Russian High Arctic.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Michael J Willis1, Andrew K Melkonian1, Matthew E Pritchard1, Eva Marie Golos2, Adam Stewart1, Garth Ornelas3 and Joan M Ramage4, (1)Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, United States, (2)Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, United States, (3)Southwestern University, Georgetown, TX, United States, (4)Lehigh Univ, Erwinna, PA, United States
We provide new surveys of ice speeds and surface elevation changes for ~40,000 km2 of glaciers and ice caps at the Novaya Zemlya (NovZ) and Severnaya Zemlya (SevZ) Archipelagoes in the Russian High Arctic. The contribution to sea level rise from this ice is expected to increase as the region continues to warm at above average rates. We derive ice speeds using pixel-tracking on radar and optical imagery, with additional information from InSAR. Ice speeds have generally increased at outlet glaciers compared to those measured using interferometry from the mid-1990s’. The most pronounced acceleration is at Inostrantseva Glacier, one of the northernmost glaciers draining into the Barents Sea on NovZ. Thinning rates over the last few decades are derived by regressing stacked elevations from multiple Digital Elevations Models (DEMs) sourced from ASTER and Worldview stereo-imagery and cartographically derived DEMs. DEMs are calibrated and co-registered using ICESat returns over bedrock. On NovZ thinning of between 60 and 100 meters since the 1950s’ is common. Similar rates between the late 1980s’ and the present are seen at SevZ.

We examine in detail the response of the outlet glaciers of the Karpinsky and Russanov Ice Caps on SevZ to the rapid collapse of the Matusevich Ice Shelf in the late summer of 2012. We do not see a dynamic thinning response at the largest feeder glaciers. This may be due to the slow response of the cold polar glaciers to changing boundary conditions, or the glaciers may be grounded well above sea level. Speed increases in the interior are difficult to assess with optical imagery as there are few trackable features. We therefore use pixel tracking on Terra SARX acquisitions before and after the collapse of the ice shelf to compute rates of flow inland, at slow moving ice. Interior ice flow has not accelerated in response to the collapse of the ice shelf but interior rates at the Karpinsky Ice Cap have increased by about 50% on the largest outlet glacier compared to rates found using ERS data in the mid-90s. Speeds have at least doubled at some of the smaller glaciers that feed the Matusevich from the south. We investigate the causes of acceleration at both archipelagoes by comparing sea surface temperatures and passive microwave observations of the timing and duration of ice surface melting.