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TitleMeighen Ice Cap: changes in geometry, mass, and climatic response since 1959
AuthorBurgess, D OORCID logo; Danielson, B DORCID logo
SourceCanadian Journal of Earth Sciences vol. 59, issue 11, 2022 p. 884-896, Open Access logo Open Access
Alt SeriesNatural Resources Canada, Contribution Series 20210705
PublisherCanadian Science Publishing
Mediapaper; digital; on-line
File formatpdf
NTS39; 49; 59; 69; 79; 89; 340; 560
Lat/Long WENS-120.0000 -60.0000 85.0000 75.0000
Subjectsenvironmental geology; Nature and Environment; glaciers; climate, arctic; arctic geology; climate; Meighen Ice Cap; Geodesy; Climate change
Illustrationslocation maps; graphs; tables; plots
ProgramClimate Change Geoscience Glacier Mass Balance Project
Released2022 03 15
AbstractRemote sensing (satellite and airborne) and in situ monitoring measurements indicate that the Meighen Ice Cap has thinned by 10 ± 3 m between 1960 and 2016, resulting in areal shrinkage by 32 km2 (38%) and total mass loss of 0.71 ± 0.2 gigatonnes. Retreat of the ice margin along the North basin by up to 2.5 km accounted for 50% of the total area loss over the 56-year period of this study. A strong inverse relationship between atmospheric summer temperature anomalies, and in situ mass balance measurements (r = -0.74) indicates that accelerated rates of mass loss from the Meighen Ice Cap are largely driven by regional scale summer warming. Increases in summer temperature anomalies by 1.9 °C from 1960-2004 to 2005-2016 coincided with a five-fold increase in surface melt across the Meighen Ice Cap. Since the 1990s, the Equilibrium Line Altitude has been positioned above the summit of the Meighen Ice Cap, resulting in loss of the accumulation zone that persisted for the first three decades of this study. Since the early 2000s, the ice cap summit has thinned by more than 4 m, which is unprecedented in the period of record. Response time calculations based on 2006-2016 average mass balance data indicate that the Meighen Ice Cap, which has been in existence for ~ 3500 years, will completely disappear in ~ 175 years.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
Documenting the rate at which Canada's glaciers are melting is critical for understanding climate change across Canada's Arctic and Alpine environments, and for quantifying Canada's contributions to global sea-level rise. Using field measurements and remote sensing data from airborne and satellite platforms collected between 1959 and 2016, results from this study show that melt run-off from the Meighen Ice Cap has accelerated five-fold since 2006 relative to the 1959-2005 average. We attribute this primarily to increases in summer air temperature anomalies, which have increased by ~2 degrees Celsius since the mid-2000s. Comparisons between changes to the Meighen Ice Cap and other monitored ice masses in the Canadian Arctic provide unique insight into linkages between the high Arctic coastal and continental climate zones where observations are otherwise sparse. Forward projections indicate that the Meighen Ice Cap will completely disappear in ~175 years.

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