The Impact of Elevation-SMB Feedbacks on the Evolution of Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica
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The Amundsen Region of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is one of the major active contributors to global sea level rise. Thwaites Glacier is a large, fast-flowing glacier in this region which is experiencing mass loss, flow acceleration, and rapid grounding line retreat, indicative of the marine ice sheet instability. Although there are many factors that may influence the potential destabilization and collapse of Thwaites Glacier, surface mass balance is an important factor as the balance of precipitation and ablation change with changing glacier geometry. This study investigates a surface elevation-SMB relationship and its influence on projected future stability at Thwaites Glacier. Observational data and regional climate model outputs are used to identify a strong elevation-SMB relationship at Thwaites Glacier. The Ice-Sheet and Sea-Level System Model is then then used to simulate Thwaites Glacier’s evolution with an added elevation-SMB feedback. Incorporating an elevation-SMB feedback increases the model prediction for ice mass loss by 5%-10% over a 200 year transient simulation.