The majority of Svalbard’s marine-terminating glaciers are retreating with few exceptions. Credit: Dr. Tian Li

On February 20, a dedicated team of researchers presented a new high-resolution calving-front dataset from 149 glaciers in Svalbard, spanning from 1985 to 2023. This modern dataset, Prominent I Earth System Science Dataoffers an important tool to better understand the mechanisms behind glacier breakup, or iceberg breakup, which can help increase our understanding of the climate drivers behind glacier loss in Svalbard and the Arctic. .

Mass loss of glaciers has accelerated over the past several decades, contributing significantly to global sea level rise. However, many of the mechanisms behind particularly the drift dynamics of ocean-terminating glaciers are not well understood.

“This new study uses a state-of-the-art deep learning model to generate a 38-year record for Svalbard tidewater glaciers using high-resolution satellite images, with exceptional density.” A researcher at the Bristol Glaciology Center and lead author of the study.

The data set contains nearly 125,000 individual calving-front tracks, resulting in a retreating trend for the majority of Svalbard’s glaciers. Using an extensive satellite data catalog, the researchers were able to analyze seasonal and annual variability as well as capture the timing of surge events, where the glacier moves significantly over a short period of time. These findings may help to better understand and predict future glacier loss in the Arctic.

According to Tian Li, “This dataset can be used to improve mass balance assessments for Svalbard tidewater glaciers. Additionally, it enables the exploration of drivers and processes controlling glacier calving. How glaciers respond

“The data set is part of the outputs from ARCTIC PASSION work on building an improved observing system for key climate variables of the Arctic cryosphere system and will be incorporated into ARCTIC PASSION work to create an operational end-to-end PASSION. A navigation and monitoring system can be built for Arctic ground ice,” says Tian Li. Moving forward, the team of researchers plans to apply the method to all other tidewater glaciers in the Arctic.

one Use of the Svalbard data set is available.

More information:
Tian Li et al, A high-resolution calving front data product for marine-terminating glaciers in Svalbard, Earth System Science Data (2024). DOI: 10.5194/essd-16-919-2024

Dataset Platform: maps.heidler.info/svalbard/

Reference: New data may help better understand glaciers (2024, February 21) Retrieved February 21, 2024 from https://phys.org/news/2024-02-glaciers.html

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