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Collaborative Research: Grounding Line Dynamics: Crary Ice Rise Revisited

Recent observations and model results suggest that collapse of the Amundsen Sea sector of West Antarctica may already be underway. However, the timeline of collapse and the effects of ongoing climatic and oceanographic changes are key unanswered questions. Complete disintegration of the ice sheet would raise global sea level by more than 3 m, which would have significant societal impacts. Improved understanding of the controls on ice-sheet evolution is needed to make better predictions of ice-sheet behavior. Results from numerical models show that buttressing from surrounding ice shelves and/or from small-scale grounded ice rises should act to slow the retreat and discharge of ice from the interior ice sheet. However, there are very few field observations with which to develop and validate models. Field observations conducted in the early 1980s on Crary Ice Rise in the Ross Sea Embayment are a notable exception. This project will revisit Crary Ice Rise with new tools to make a suite of measurements designed to address questions about how the ice rise affects ice discharge from the Ross Sea sector of West Antarctica. The team will include a graduate and undergraduate student, and will participate in a range of outreach activities. New tools including radar, seismic, and GPS instruments will be used to conduct targeted geophysical measurements both on Crary Ice Rise and across its grounding line. The project will use these new measurements, together with available ancillary data to inform a numerical model of grounding line dynamics. The model and measurements will be used to address the (1) How has the ice rise evolved over timescales ranging from: the past few decades; the past millennia after freeze-on; and through the deglaciation? (2) What history of ice dynamics is preserved in the radar-detected internal stratigraphy? (3) What dynamical effect does the presence/absence of the ice rise have on discharge of the Ross Ice Streams today? (4) How is it contributing to the slow-down of the proximal Whillans and Mercer ice streams? (5) What dynamical response will the ice rise have under future environmental change?

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