Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-1053
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-1053
14 May 2024
 | 14 May 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Glacier geometry limits the propagation of thinning in Patagonian Icefields

Bastian Morales, Marcelo Somos-Valenzuela, Mario Lillo, Iñigo Irarrazaval, David Farias, Elizabet Lizama, Diego Rivera, and Alfonso Fernández

Abstract. Climate change is causing a decline in glaciers globally, with the possibility that some may disappear during this century. Recent findings postulate that the geometric glacier-topography configuration has the capacity to limit glacier thinning upstream. The Patagonian Icefields (PI), with 15,900 km² of glaciers, are the world's largest glacial freshwater reservoir after Antarctica and Greenland. In recent decades, it has been one of the areas with the greatest mass loss worldwide due to climate change. Our research explores the relationship between glacier geometry and changes in PI glaciers to determine regions vulnerable to thinning. We studied 45 major marine- and lake-terminating glaciers in PI using the Péclet number (Pe) based on the diffusive kinematic wave model to determine the geometric state of glaciers and as a metric of vulnerability to diffusive thinning. Locations with Pe ≤ 8 experienced greater thinning and retreat, suggesting an empirical limit that encompasses more than 90 % of ice thinning. The empirical limit is related to a significant change in the slope gradient and roughness of the subglacial topography at PI due to a knickpoint in the subglacial bed. On average, ~53 % of the total ice flow of PI glaciers is below the thinning limit. Therefore, due to the current geometric state and evolution, lake-terminating glaciers may propagate frontal thinning deep inland. The empirical thinning limit provides signals of priority glaciers to investigate considering current climate change projections.

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Bastian Morales, Marcelo Somos-Valenzuela, Mario Lillo, Iñigo Irarrazaval, David Farias, Elizabet Lizama, Diego Rivera, and Alfonso Fernández

Status: open (until 25 Jun 2024)

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Bastian Morales, Marcelo Somos-Valenzuela, Mario Lillo, Iñigo Irarrazaval, David Farias, Elizabet Lizama, Diego Rivera, and Alfonso Fernández
Bastian Morales, Marcelo Somos-Valenzuela, Mario Lillo, Iñigo Irarrazaval, David Farias, Elizabet Lizama, Diego Rivera, and Alfonso Fernández

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Short summary
Through a physical model, we explored how lacier geometry and topography configuration constrains glacier thinning in the Patagonian Icefields, the world's main glacial freshwater reservoir after Antarctica and Greenland. Our results indicate that about 53 % of the Patagonian Icefield ice flow is susceptible to thinning. Our findings allow for identifying priority glaciers for future research considering climate change projections.