Spatial and temporal changes in dry-snow line altitude on the Antarctic Peninsula

Arigony-Neto, Jorge; Saurer, Helmut; Simões, Jefferson C.; Rau, Frank; Jaña, Ricardo; Vogt, Steffen; Gossmann, Hermann
May 2009
Climatic Change;May2009, Vol. 94 Issue 1/2, p19
Academic Journal
Drastic changes were detected in glacial systems of the Antarctic Peninsula in the last decades. The observed phenomena comprise the disintegration of ice shelves, acceleration and thinning of glaciers, and retreat of glacier fronts. However, due to the lack of consistent systematic observations in particular of the higher parts of the glacial systems, it is difficult to predict further responses of the Antarctic Peninsula glaciers to climatic change. The present paper analyses spatial and temporal variations of changes in the dry-snow line altitude on the Antarctic Peninsula as extracted from a time series (1992–2005) of ERS-1/2 SAR and Envisat ASAR data. Upward changes in dry-snow line altitude were observed in general, and are attributed to extreme high-temperature events impacting the central plateaus of the Antarctic Peninsula and the increasing duration of warming periods. A mean decrease in dry-snow line altitude was detected on the west side of the peninsula and is identified as a response to recorded increase in precipitation and accumulation. These results validate the capability of SAR data for deriving superficial parameters of glaciers to be used as indicators of climatic changes in high-latitude regions where operational restrictions limit conventional meteorological observations.


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