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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2018-186
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2018-186
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 08 Oct 2018

Research article | 08 Oct 2018

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

Antarctic Ice Shelf Thickness Change from Multi-Mission Lidar Mapping

Tyler C. Sutterley1, Thorsten Markus1, Thomas A. Neumann1, Michiel van den Broeke2, J. Melchior van Wessem2, and Stefan R. M. Ligtenberg2 Tyler C. Sutterley et al.
  • 1NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
  • 2Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands

Abstract. We calculate rates of ice thickness change and bottom melt for ice shelves in West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula from a combination of elevation measurements from Operation IceBridge corrected for oceanic and surface processes, surface velocity measurements from synthetic aperture radar, and high-resolution outputs from regional climate models. We calculate ice thickness change rates in a Lagrangian reference frame to reduce the effects from advection of sharp vertical features, such as cracks and crevasses, which can saturate Eulerian-derived estimates. We use our method over different ice shelves in Antarctica, which vary in terms of the processes that drive their change, their size and their repeat coverage but are all susceptible to short-term changes in ice thickness. We find that ice thickness variations of the Larsen-C ice shelf are due to the flux divergence of the shelf with firn and surface processes controlling short-term variability over our observation period. The Wilkins ice shelf is sensitive to short time-scale coastal and upper-ocean processes, and basal melt is the dominate contributor to the ice thickness change over the period. At The Pine Island ice shelf in the critical region near in the grounding zone, we find that ice shelf thinning rates exceed 40m/yr. The thickness change is dominated by strong submarine thinning. Regions near the grounding zones of the Dotson and Crosson ice shelves are thinning at rates greater than 40m/yr, also due to intense basal melt.

Tyler C. Sutterley et al.
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Tyler C. Sutterley et al.
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Short summary
Most of the Antarctic ice sheet is fringed by ice shelves, floating extensions of ice that help to modulate the flow of the glaciers that float into them. We use airborne laser altimetry data to measure changes in ice thickness of ice shelves around West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula. Each of our target ice shelves is susceptible to short-term changes in ice thickness. The method developed here provides a framework for processing NASA ICESat-2 data over ice shelves.
Most of the Antarctic ice sheet is fringed by ice shelves, floating extensions of ice that help...
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