Glacier wastage on southern Adelaide Island, Antarctica, and its impact on snow runway operations
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The variations and dynamics of the southern edge of Fuchs Ice Piedmont, Adelaide island (67 degrees 45'09'S, 68 degrees 55'04'W), Antarctic Peninsula, are presented. The snow-covered surface of the glacier has been used since the 1960s for landing aeroplanes in support of British, and more recently Chilean, operations at nearby Teniente Carvajal station (formerly known as Adelaide T). In recent years, snow conditions in the runway area have progressively deteriorated, due to increasingly early summer melting. Radio-echo sounding, global positioning system and remotely sensed data have been analyzed for mapping the crevasse and ice velocity fields, as well as the surface and subglacial topography of the area. The results show that the runway area is located on a local ice divide surrounded by crevasses which are appearing on the glacier surface progressively earlier in the summer, presumably due to higher snowmelt and perhaps higher ice velocities, in response to regional atmospheric warming. In the near future, landing operations will be further affected as more crevasses will appear in the runway area if present warming trends persist. This situation affects all coastal areas in the Antarctic Peninsula, hence the need to search for possible new locations of crevasse-free runways at higher elevations.