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Marine-terminating glaciers on the Antarctic Peninsula (AP) have retreated, accelerated and thinned in response to climate change in recent decades. Ocean warming has been implicated as a trigger for these changes in glacier dynamics, yet little data exist near glacier termini to assess the role of ocean warming here. We use remotely-sensed iceberg melt rates seaward of two glaciers on the eastern and six glaciers on the western AP from 2013 to 2019 to explore connections between variations in ocean conditions and glacier frontal ablation. We find iceberg melt rates follow regional ocean temperature variations, with the highest melt rates (mean ≈ 10 cm d−1) at Cadman and Widdowson glaciers in the west and the lowest melt rates (mean ≈ 0.5 cm d−1) at Crane Glacier in the east. Near-coincident glacier frontal ablation rates from 2014 to 2018 vary from ~450 m a−1 at Edgeworth and Blanchard glaciers to ~3000 m a−1 at Seller Glacier, former Wordie Ice Shelf tributary. Variations in iceberg melt rates and glacier frontal ablation rates are significantly positively correlated around the AP (Spearman's ρ = 0.71, p-value = 0.003). We interpret this correlation as support for previous research suggesting submarine melting of glacier termini exerts control on glacier frontal dynamics around the AP.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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