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Spatial and temporal variation of surface temperature on the Antarctic Peninsula and the limit of viability of ice shelves

By Elizabeth M. Morris and David G. Vaughan

Abstract

Mapping surface air temperature in the Antarctic Peninsula region is made unusually difficult by: the scarcity of meteorological stations, strong climatic gradients and recent rapid regional warming. We have compiled a database of 534 mean annual temperatures derived from measurements of snow temperature at around 10-m depth and air temperature measured at meteorological stations and automatic weather stations. These annual temperatures were corrected for interannual variability using a composite record from six stations across the region. The corrected temperatures were then analysed using multiple linear regression to yield altitudinal and temporal lapse rates. A subset of 508 values were then used to produce a map of temperature reduced to sea level and for a specific epoch (2000 A.D.). The map shows the dramatic climate contrast (3-5degreesC) between the east and west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula in greater detail than earlier studies and also indicates that the present limit of ice shelves closely follows the -9degreesC (2000 A.D.) isotherm. Furthermore, the limit of ice shelves known to have retreated during the last 100 years is bounded by the -9degreesC and -5degreesC (2000 A.D.) isotherms, suggesting that the retreat of ice shelves in the Antarctic Peninsula region is consistent with a warming of around similar to 4 degrees C

Topics: Meteorology and Climatology, Glaciology
Publisher: American Geophysical Union
Year: 2003
DOI identifier: 10.1029/AR079p0061
OAI identifier: oai:nora.nerc.ac.uk:12803
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