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Glaciology
Terence Hughes

The year 2001 was bracketed by two volumes dealing with the climate record contained in ice cores: The Two Mile Time Machine (2000) by Richard Alley and The Ice Chronicles (2002) by Paul Mayewski and Frank White. These serve as bookends for the first International Symposium on Ice Cores and Climate to be held in Greenland.The symposium took place in Kangerlussuaq last August and was co-sponsored by the International Glaciological Society, the Danish Natural Science Foundation, and the University of Copenhagen. Topics included the interpretation of ice-core records, comparison of results from different ice cores, meteorology of air-snow transfer to improve ice-core interpretation, comparison of ice-core records with other climate records, mass balance studies, results from the Program for Arctic Regional Climate Assessment (PARCA), geophysical and borehole measurements, and ice-flow rheology that influences ice-core interpretation.

The northern section of the Larsen B ice shelf, an ice mass on the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula, collapsed earlier this year. These satellite images compiled from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS), and analyzed at the University of Colorado's National Snow and Ice Data Center, show that between Jan. 31 (left) and March 5 (right), the ice shelf lost about 1,255 square miles of area. Photo courtesy of the National Snow and Ice Data Center

Antarctic research

In Antarctica, the year saw completion of the 2000-2001 leg of the United States component of the International Trans-Antarctic Scientific Expeditions (ITASE) and the beginning of the 2001-2002 leg, both near the ice divide of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The ITASE traverses collect meteorological data, recover 200-to-500-year climate records from shallow ice cores, and measure surface mass balance, elevation, and mean temperature; internal ice stratigraphy; and subglacial topography. The 2001-2002 traverse collected the first comprehensive data set for ice draining into Pine Island Bay on the Amundsen Sea flank of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which comprises about one-third of the remaining ice sheet and the site for future glaciological studies of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Initiative of the U.S. National Science Foundation.

The Eighth Annual WAIS Workshop was held in September 2001 near Sterling, Va. Presentations focused on four questions:

Many presentations dealt with the inception of stream flow near the West Antarctic ice divide for ice streams entering the Ross Ice Shelf, and several powerful demonstrations explained how satellite remote-sensing technology is aiding these investigations.

Julie Palias, NSF program manager for glaciology, announced that ice stream B has been renamed Whillans Ice Stream, in honor of Ian Whillans, a pioneer in Antarctic glaciology, who died in May 2001. His death occurred just over a year after the glaciological community lost Dr. Akira Higashi, the dean of Japanese glaciologists, in March 2000.

In his presentation of a three-dimensional look inside ice stream C, Hermann Engelhardt distributed 3-D glasses at the start of his video journey down a borehole. The camera showed entrapped air bubbles giving way to ice foliation patterns and passing through a layer of refrozen basal ice charged with till before revealing a glimpse of ice moving over the bed.

Several WAIS presentations were published in the Journal of Glaciology in 2001. Notable among them was a paper by Eric Rignot showing that Thwaites Glacier, like Pine Island Glacier, has a thinning ice drainage basin, rapid ice-melting rates beneath its floating terminus, and a retreating grounding line.
In another paper, J. Wellner, A. Lowe, S. Shipp, and J. Anderson described the glacial geology of the West Antarctic continental shelf in the Ross, Amundsen, and Bellingshausen seas in relation to Holocene gravitational collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Major episodes of ice-shelf disintegration in West Antarctica during 2001 and 2002 are indications of ongoing collapse, especially in Pine Island Bay.

AGU honors Barclay Kamb

At a special session of the American Geophysical Union's fall meeting, Barclay Kamb of the California Institute of Technology was honored for his contributions to our science. Kamb was introduced by his former student, Charles Raymond. The two may be the first teacher-student pair ever to receive the Seligman Crystal, the highest award of the International Glaciological Society.

Throughout his career, Kamb has consistently taken on the hardest tasks in glaciology: from determining the low-temperature, high-pressure phases of ice -- including intricacies of the hydrogen bond -- to drilling through Variegated Glacier (Alaska) as it was surging, Columbia Glacier (Alaska) as it was disintegrating, and ice streams B and C in Antarctica. He has excelled in all aspects of glaciology, from laboratory experiments and instrument design to drilling technology, field studies, and theoretical investigations.

Douglas MacAyeal, past chief editor of the Journal of Glaciology, recalled an earlier AGU meeting where Barclay Kamb spoke on a geophysical/tectonic problem unrelated to glaciology. After Kamb's talk, MacAyeal overheard the following exchange between two geophysicists:

"Who is Barclay Kamb? That was the best talk I've ever heard!"
"He's a glaciologist."
"A glaciologist? What a waste of a first-class mind!"

It wasn't wasted.

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Hughes is a professor in the Department of Geological Sciences and Institute for Quaternary and Climate Studies of the Bryand Global Sciences Center at the University of Maine. His glaciological research has been in Antarctica and Greenland, and he is the author of Ice Sheets (Oxford University Press, 1998). E-mail.

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