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Young, N., Fricker, H.A., Bassis, J., and Coleman, R. (2003). Evolution of a Rift System on the Amery Ice Shelf, East Antarctica. Eos Trans. AGU, 84(46), Fall Meet. Suppl. 2003, Abstract # C11D-0857

We use satellite imagery to monitor the growth of an active rift system on the Amery Ice Shelf, East Antarctica. The rift system, which has been developing at the ice front over the last 15 years, consists of two longitudinal-to-flow rifts and one transverse-to-flow rift. The longitudinal rifts are located within the boundaries between adjacent flow bands. These flow bands originated from ice streams that merged several hundred kilometers upstream to form the Amery Ice Shelf. The high transverse (lateral) strain rates acting at the front of the ice shelf force these merging bands of ice apart, forming a rift. The transverse rift extends from the tip of the westernmost longitudinal rift and is one branch of a three-way fissure which formed around 1995. The transverse rift has elongated by approximately 15 km over the last 7 years, and once it has reached the eastern longitudinal rift an iceberg will be released. The rate and direction of propagation of the rift have not been constant. We use moderate resolution MISR, and high resolution Landsat, and ERS and RADARSAT SAR imagery to show how it has evolved over the last few years. This work is the first stage of a broader investigation of processes contributing to rift development and calving of icebergs, involving fieldwork, satellite remote sensing, and modelling.

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Updated: 14-Jan-2005