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Thickening of the Ross Ice Shelf and equilibrium state of the West Antarctic ice sheet


Data from the south-east quadrant of the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica indicate that, near the grounding line, the ice shelf is growing thicker by almost 1 m yr−1. This thickening rate implies an advance of 1 km yr−1 of the grounding line between the West Antarctic ice sheet and the Ross Ice Shelf. It can be reconciled with independent evidence for current thinning of the West Antarctic ice sheet if the latter is a delayed response to an earlier retreat of the ice shelf grounding line. The high rates of ice shelf thickening may be due to an increase in the resistance to ice shelf movement caused by localised ice shelf grounding following isostatic uplift of the sea bed.

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Thomas, R. Thickening of the Ross Ice Shelf and equilibrium state of the West Antarctic ice sheet. Nature 259, 180–183 (1976).

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