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

Research article 19 Mar 2018

Research article | 19 Mar 2018

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

Four decades of surface elevation change of the Antarctic Ice Sheet from multi-mission satellite altimetry

Ludwig Schröder1, Martin Horwath1, Reinhard Dietrich1, and Veit Helm2 Ludwig Schröder et al.
  • 1Technische Universität Dresden, Institut für Planetare Geodäsie, Dresden, Germany
  • 2Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany

Abstract. We developed an approach for a multi-mission satellite altimetry analysis over the Antarctic Ice Sheet which comprises Seasat, Geosat, ERS-1, ERS-2, Envisat, ICESat and CryoSat-2. In a first step we apply a consistent reprocessing of the radar alitmetry data which improves the measurement precision by up to 50%. We then perform a joint repeat altimetry analysis of all missions. We estimate inter-mission offsets by approaches adapted to the temporal overlap or non-overlap and to the similarity or dissimilarity of involved altimetry techniques. Hence, we obtain monthly grids forming a combined surface elevation change time series. Owing to the early missions Seasat and Geosat, the time series span almost four decades from 07/1978 to 12/2017 over 25% of the ice sheet area (coastal regions of East Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula). Since the launch of ERS-1 79% of the ice sheet area is covered by observations. Over this area, we obtain a negative volume trend of −34±5km3yr−1 for the more than 25-year period (04/1992–12/2017). These volume losses have significantly accelerated to a rate of −170±11km3yr−1 for 2010–2017. Interannual variations significantly impact decadal volume rates which highlights the importance of the long-term time series. Our time series show a high coincidence with modeled cumulated precipitation anomalies and with satellite gravimetry. This supports the interpretation with respect to snowfall anomalies or dynamic thinning. Moreover, the correlation with cumulated precipitation anomalies back to the Seasat and Geosat periods highlights that the inter-mission offsets were successfully corrected and that the early missions add valuable information.

Ludwig Schröder et al.
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Ludwig Schröder et al.
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Short summary
We developed an approach for a multi-mission satellite altimetry analysis over the Antarctic Ice Sheet. In this paper we discuss which special aspects have to be considered to combine these measurements. Our resulting monthly grids between 1978 and 2017 give new insights into the long-term and interannual surface elevation changes. They agree well with contemporaneous data of cumulated precipitation anomalies and satellite gravimetry.
We developed an approach for a multi-mission satellite altimetry analysis over the Antarctic Ice...