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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 11 Jul 2018

Research article | 11 Jul 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).

Sentinel-3 Delay-Doppler Altimetry over Antarctica

Malcolm McMillan1, Alan Muir2, Andrew Shepherd1, Roger Escolà3, Mònica Roca3, Jérémie Aublanc4, Pierre Thibaut4, Marco Restano5, Américo Ambrozio5, and Jérôme Benveniste5 Malcolm McMillan et al.
  • 1Centre for Polar Observation & Modelling, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK
  • 2University College London, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT, UK
  • 3IsardSAT Ltd, Surrey Space Incubator, 40 Occam Road, The Surrey Research Park, Guildford, Surrey GU2 7YG, UK
  • 4CLS, 11 Rue Hermes, Parc Technologique du Canal, 31520 Ramonville Saint-Agne, France
  • 5ESA ESRIN, Largo Galileo Galilei, 1, 00044 Frascati RM, Italy

Abstract. On 16th February 2016, the launch of the Sentinel-3A satellite marked the first step towards a new era of operational Delay-Doppler altimetry over ice sheets. Given the provision of these novel altimeters for decades to come, and the long-term benefits they can offer to a range of glaciological applications, it is important to establish their capacity to monitor ice sheet elevation and elevation change. Here, we present the first analysis of Sentinel-3 Delay-Doppler altimetry over the Antarctic Ice Sheet, and assess the accuracy and precision of retrievals of ice sheet elevation across a range of topographic regimes. Over the ice sheet interior, we find that the instrument achieves both an accuracy and a precision of the order of 10cm, with ~98% of the data validated being within 50cm of co-located airborne measurements. Across coastal regions, which exhibit steeper and more complex topography, the accuracy decreases slightly, although ~60–85% of validated data are still within 1 meter of co-located airborne elevation measurements. Finally, we explore the utility of the instrument for mapping elevation change, and show that, with less than 2 years of available data, it is possible to resolve known signals of ice dynamic imbalance. Our analysis demonstrates a new, long-term source of measurements of ice sheet elevation and elevation change, and the early potential of this novel operational system for monitoring ice sheet imbalance for decades to come.

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Malcolm McMillan et al.
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Malcolm McMillan et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
We evaluate the ability of a new satellite mission to measure ice sheet elevation and elevation change. We undertook the work because satellite measurements such as these are essential for determining how quickly ice sheets are melting and, in turn, to understanding the rate at which sea level is rising. We show the high accuracy achieved by these measurements and their ability to map known signals of ice loss, thus demonstrating a new source of data to monitor Earth’s remote Polar regions.
We evaluate the ability of a new satellite mission to measure ice sheet elevation and elevation...