Current page:Home > Research > Past Research

Geodetic Observations of Time‐Variable Glacial Isostatic Adjustment

Global Positioning System observations in Southeast Alaska show evidence for interannual variations in uplift rates, which are consistent with an acceleration of mass loss rates across the region from the 1990s to 2012. We constructed an updated regional loading model based on updated twentieth century average deglaciation estimates. 

This model features a larger mass loss rate overall than the model used in previous studies. We adopted a viscosity model with an upper and lower mantle viscosity from VM5a but with a low viscosity asthenosphere as in previous regional studies. 

We varied the asthenospheric thickness, asthenospheric viscosity, and lithospheric thickness to find the Earth model that best fits the data, which has a lithospheric thickness of 55 km and an asthenosphere with thickness 230 km and viscosity 3 × 10^19 Pa s. There is a strong tradeoff between the asthenosphere thickness and viscosity, and different estimates or assumptions about the asthenospheric thickness is one of the main causes of the varying viscosity estimates of previous studies. We find a higher viscosity than previous studies in part because we find that a thicker asthenosphere fits the data better than a thinner one and also because the higher twentieth century mass loss rate compared to earlier studies requires a higher viscosity to predict the same uplift rates. Vertical velocities predicted by the model drop rapidly with distance from the ice masses, while horizontal velocities are smaller but extend for a longer distance.

We also studied the effects of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM)

and the Little Ice Age (LIA) in Cascadia on the present surface deformation.

This work was published on JGR.

Hu, Y., and J.F. Freymueller (2019), Geodetic observations of time-variable Glacial Isostatic Adjustment in southeast Alaska and its implications for Earth rheology, J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth124, doi:10.1029/2018JB017028. Link

Copyright © Geodynamics Research Center,USTC All Rights Reserved