Konig Glacier Retreat, South Georgia Island

Konig Glacier is a land terminating glacier just north of the Neumayer Glacier, ending on an outwash plain in the Antarctic Bay (AB) on the northwest coast of South Georgia. In 1977 the glacier extended to within 300 m of Antarcic Bay and no proglacial lake existed (BAS map). Neumayer Glacier is a calving glacier that has retreated 4800 m from 1999 to 2014 and is dynamically connected to the Konig Glacier along its southern margin just where the glacier turns northeast. Gordon et al., (2008) observed that larger tidewater and sea-calving valley and outlet glaciers generally remained in relatively advanced positions until the 1980s. After 1980 most glaciers receded; some of these retreats have been dramatic and a number of small mountain glaciers will soon disappear. konig glacier ge Here we examine changes in Konig Glacier from 1999 to 2014 using Landsat imagery. In 1999 the glacier ended in a proglacial lake at the red arrow, where a terminal moraine developed across the lake. A tributary glacier from the west joins the Konig Glacier near the terminus in 1999, pink arrow. At the green arrow is a small cirque-valley glacier that joins the Neumayer Glacier near the boundary with Konig Glacier. In 2003 there has been limited retreat of the main terminus since 1999 and of the west tributary at the pink arrow, the British Antarctic Survey mapping shows that the two glacier had separated by 2003. The side cirque glacier at the green arrow is still connected. By 2005 a closeup of the terminus in Google earth indicates the low slope, lack of crevasses and developing outwash plain at the terminus. The terminal moraine in the middle of the lake marking the 1993 terminus position is also evident (BAS). The retreat from this moraine by 2005 is 500m. In 2014 the glacier has retreated from to the yellow arrow, this is an 800 m retreat in 15 years from the 1999 red arrow terminus. The proglacial lake is now 1500 m across and the terminus is 2300 m from Antarctic Bay. The west gtributary at the pink arrow is fully separated. The side cirque glacier at the green arrow no longer is connected to the Konig-Neumayer Glacier. This indicates considerable thinning of the junction of these two glaciers which will result in further retreat of Konig Glacier.
konig glacier 1999
1999 Landsat image
konig glacier 2003
2003 Landsat image

konig terminus
Google earth image 2005

konig glacier 2014
2014 Landsat image

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Neumayer Glacier, South Georgia Retreat

South Georgia sits amidst the furious if not screaming fifties latitude belt, the circum Antarctic westerlies. This region is famous for the endless march of storms parading around Antarctica. The island is south of the Antarctic Convergence, preventing any truly warm season from persisting. The cool maritime climate leads to numerous glaciers covering a majority of the island and quite low equilibrium line altitudes. Sugden, Clapperton and Pelto (1989-sorry no good link to this paper, one of the first I worked on), 1989 noted the ELA of Neumayer Glacier at 550 m. The tidewater glaciers of South Georgia in general maintained fairly advanced positions unitl 1980. Gordon et al., (2008) observed that larger tidewater and sea-calving valley and outlet glaciers generally remained in relatively advanced positions until the 1980s. After 1980 most glaciers receded; some of these retreats have been dramatic and a number of small mountain glaciers will soon disappear. Neumayer Glacier is one of the large tidewater glaciers on South Georgia. Maps from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and satellite imagery are used here to assess the changes in this glacier terminus position. A view of the entire glacier in 2006 from Google Earth, from beyond its calving terminus, indicates indicates the glacier remains vigorous with extensive crevassing at the calving front and extensive snowcover above the ELA. The BAS has a mapping function that provides glacier front positions since early in the 20th century. For Neumayer Glacier the 1938 position is 3.5 km down fjord from the 2006 position. There was essentially no retreat up to 1974 and limited retreat up to 1993. . In 2004 and 2009 NASA provided two images of Neumayer Glacier indicating retreat from 2004 when the glacier extended to the down fjord edge of a tributary glacier from the south. By 2009 the glacier has retreated upglacier of this now former tributary, this retreat is 1300 m. Landsat Image from 1999 to 2014 indicates retreat of 4800 m from the red to the green arrow , this is 320 m/year. The glacier appears to have retreated into a deeper section of the fjord then where it ended from 1970-2002. This will enhance calving from the glacier, and promote additional mass loss and retreat. This retreat will impact Konig Glacier which is connected to the Neumayer Glacier. Calving rate increases with water depth and the degree of glacier. Pelto and Warren (1991) provided an expanded version of the relationship first quantified by Brown and others (1982). In the you would have never guessed it category, is the glacier retreat has been an aid to the rat population, as the glacier tongues used to corner populations.neumayer 1999

newmayer 2014