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Thickening of Jakobshavns Isbræ, West Greenland, measured by airborne laser altimetry

  • R. Thomas (a1), W. Rkabill (a2), E. Frederick (a3) and K. Jezek (a4)

Abstract

NASA flights over southern Greenland in 1991, 1992 and 1993, using a scanning laser altimeter with Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation, have demonstrated a capability to measure ice-surface elevations to an accuracy of 10-15 cm. Flights over Jakobshavns Isbræ revealed winter thickening by several meters between September 1991 and April 1992. By July 1993, surface elevations showed a small additional increase, possibly associated with the cold 1992 summer. Data collected over the ice sheet east of Jakobshavns Isbræ show negligible change over the same period; but further south, at latitude 65 N, the western part of the ice sheet appears to have thickened by up to 2 m between 1980 and 1993. It is clear that such measurements must be continued over many years, both to quantify the effects of inter-annual variability and to measure long-term trends. To this end, we plan to complete a first survey of all major drainage basins on the ice sheet in May-June 1994, and then to resurvey all flight lines at 5a intervals, with more frequent flights over selected routes.

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References

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