Predictions about future changes in the Amundsen Sea sector of the West Antarctic ice sheet (WAIS) have been hampered by poorly known subglacial topography. Extensive airborne survey has allowed us to derive improved subglacial topography for the Pine Island Glacier basin. The trunk of this glacier lies in a narrow, 250-km long, 500-m deep sub-glacial trough, suggesting a long-lived and constrained ice stream. Two tributaries lie in similar troughs, others lie in less defined, shallower troughs. The lower basin of the glacier is surrounded by bedrock, which, after deglaciation and isostatic rebound, could rise above sea level. This feature would impede ice-sheet collapse initiated near the grounding line of this glacier, and prevent its progress into the deepest portions of WAIS. The inland-slope of the bed beneath the trunk of the glacier, however, confirms potential instability of the lower basin, containing sufficient ice to raise global sea by ∼24 cm.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)