On the Mertz and Ninnis Glaciers, Eastern Antarctica

Gerd Wendler, Kristina Ahlnas and Craig Lingle

Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska 99775


Two large glacier tongues which extend substantially across the coastline of King George V Land in eastern Antarctica have been studied by remote sensing (Synthetic Aperture Radar, JERS-1) . The tongue of the Mertz Glacier is in the state of advance, while the Ninnis Glacier tongue is retreating.

Some more specific points are:

1) The distinctive surface structure and the form of the glacier tongues indicates that they are floating.
2) While the tongue of the Ninnis Glacier lost about 2/3 of its area since 1913, the Mertz Glacier tongue has advanced substantially and has about doubled its aerial extent over the same time period.
3) The annual movement of the glacier tongue of the Mertz Glacier was determined to be about 1.2 km. This is close to the value of the advance of the tip of the tongue since 1963, which was determined as 0.9 km/yr.

Financial support was obtained from the Alaska Climate Research Center, State of Alaska, and NSF Grant OPP 94-13879.
1995, Journal of Glaciology, Vol 42(142), 447-453