Glacier shrinkage and modeled uplift of the Alps

Valentina Roberta Barletta, C. Ferrari, G. Diolaiuti, T. Carnielli, R. Sabadini, C. Smiraglia

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Present day glacier reduction in the Alps, estimated from glacier inventories and induced viscoelastic response of a stratified Earth's model, is responsible for sizable uplift rates. Patches of 0.4–0.5 mm/yr, due to ice mass loss of largest ice complexes, overprint a characteristic area of slower uplift of 0.1–0.2 mm/yr, signature of the phenomenon in the whole Alpine chain. Viscous stress relaxation in the lower crust, due to glacier mass loss after the end of the Little Ice Age, is expected to produce uplift rates of 0.32 mm/yr, leading to a total viscoelastic response up to 0.8 mm/yr. Our predictions in the western Alps show that viscoelastic response to present day glacier shrinkage forms a substantial fraction (half) of the observed uplift data. Attempts to constrain the contributions arising from active Alpine tectonics and drainage must account for this uplift signal.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number14
Pages (from-to)5
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


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