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Multi decadal glacier area fluctuations in Pan-Arctic

DOI: 10.5194/tcd-6-4417-2012

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Abstract:

The shrinking of land-terminating glaciers and ice caps (GIC) has been documented in high-latitude regions, even though repeat observations upon which to base such studies have been limited in space. Here, we present a new record of satellite-derived area changes for 321 land-terminating GIC throughout Pan-Arctic and for the W. Canada and W. US, with focus on the period from mid-1980s to late-2000s/2011 (the last ca. 25 yr). The mean shrinking rate was 0.06±0.01 km2 yr 1 during a period with climate warming. Most of the observed GIC shrank in area, more so than previously believed: while only 8% advanced. The analysis indicates that the observed GIC have lost an arithmetic average of one-fifth of their area since the mid-1980s (equal to a shrinking rate of ca. 1% yr 1), with the highest rate of loss of 40±4% ( 1.7 % yr 1) in Alaska, and the lowest rate of loss of 12±3% ( 0.5 % yr 1) in Arctic Russia.

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