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Outlet Glacier Dynamics in East Antarctica

Project Description

Increasingly detailed observations over the last decade have revealed the dynamic nature of ice sheet margins, where rapid changes can be evident on short time scales (Rignot and Kanagaratnam, 2006, Pritchard et al, 2009). The most dramatic examples have come from the Antarctic Peninsula, West Antarctica and Greenland, where significant increases in ice velocity as well as ice front and grounding line retreat rates of kilometres per year have been measured (Scambos et al, 2004, Park et al, 2013). A number of external triggers and physical processes have been linked with these changes. However, comparatively little is known about the extent to which the same processes affect East Antarctica, which holds far more sea level potential than West Antarctica and Greenland combined. Deep under-ice basins (Lythe et al 2000) may make parts of East Antarctica susceptible to runaway grounding retreat through the same feedback process that has been associated with Pine Island Glacier and numerous Greenland outlet glaciers (e.g. Nick et al, 2013). Whether and when such a retreat could be triggered is currently unclear, and existing time series of glacier evolution are limited.

This PhD project will focus on recent changes in East Antarctica’s ice sheet through the use a numerical models to examine the role of external forcing of the ice sheet over the satellite period. The model results will be compared to observations and to satellite derived observations.

Keywords: Antarctica, modelling, ice, ocean, climate

This project is supported by the Australian Research Council (ARC) Special Research Initiative for Antarctic Gateway Partnership. For information about the Antarctic Gateway Partnership visit the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) web page.

Funding Notes

The ARC Antarctic Gateway Partnership is seeking applications from suitably qualified graduates for living allowance Scholarships to undertake PhD projects.

The UTAS Graduate Research Office provides detailed information about scholarships including eligibility, award conditions and application processes.

To be considered for an ARC Antarctic Gateway Partnership living allowance Scholarship it is necessary to specify this on the Admissions and Scholarship Application Part 9.1.

Tuition fees apply to all international candidates. Limited numbers of UTAS tuition fee scholarships are also available on a competitive basis to candidates undertaking projects closely aligned with the ARC Antarctic Gateway Partnership's research objectives.


Rignot, E. and P. Kanagaratnam. 2006. Changes in the Velocity Structure of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Science, 311, 986--990
Pritchard, H.D., R.J. Arthern, D.G. Vaughan and L.A. Edwards. 2009. Extensive dynamic thinning on the margins of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. Nature, 265, 971-975 doi:10.1038/nature08471

Scambos, T.A., J.A. Bohlander, C.A. Shuman and P. Skvarca. 2004. Glacier acceleration and thinning after ice shelf collapse in the Larsen B embayment. Geophys. Res. Lett., 31(18), L18402, doi:1029/2004GL020670

Park, J.W., N. Gourmelen, A. Shepherd, S.W. Kim and D.J. Wingham. 2013. Sustained retreat of Pine Island Glacier. Geophys. Res. Lett., 40, 2137-2142, doi:10.1002/grl.50379

Lythe, M.B., D.G. Vaughan and the BEDMAP Consortium. 2001. BEDMAP- A new ice thickness and subglacial topographic model of Antarctica. J. Geophys. Res. 106(B6), 11335-11351.

Nick, F.M., A. Vieli, M.L. Andersen, I. Joughin, A. Payne, T.L. Edwards, F. Pattyn and R.S.W. van der Wal. 2013. Future sea-level rise from Greenland's main outlet glaciers in a warming climate. Nature, 497, 235-238, doi:10.1038/nature12068

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