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Antarctica's ice shelves stabilize the ice sheet and, therefore, understanding processes affecting the mass budgets of ice shelves is important for estimating grounded ice loss. To study the ice shelf dynamics, we analyzed seismological and GNSS data from the Ekström Ice Shelf in Dronning Maud Land. We extracted probabilistic power spectral densities (PPSD) in the frequency band 3.4–6.8 Hz, typical of icequakes, from seismological data and observed pronounced signals in the PPSD with near 3 and 4 cycles per day (cpd) corresponding to tidal overharmonics, in addition to the main tidal constituents near 1 and 2 cpd. GNSS data reveal the same components in ice flow speed but not in vertical displacements. Generally, tide-induced grounding line migration modulates the flow velocity of an entire ice shelf. We find that this velocity modulation causes the increased icequake activity in the tidal overharmonics with 3 and 4 cpd in an ice shear zone where the flow velocity drops to nearly zero.
The Northeast Greenland Ice Stream (NEGIS) is an important dynamic component for the total mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet, as it reaches up to the central divide and drains 12% of the ice sheet. The geometric boundary conditions and in particular the nature of the subglacial bed of the NEGIS are essential to understand its ice flow dynamics. We present a record of more than 8000 km of radar survey lines of multi-channel, ultra-wideband radio echo sounding data covering an area of 24 000 km2, centered on the drill site for the East Greenland Ice-core Project (EGRIP), in the upper part of the NEGIS catchment. Our data yield a new detailed model of ice-thickness distribution and basal topography in the region. The enhanced resolution of our bed topography model shows features which we interpret to be caused by erosional activity, potentially over several glacial–interglacial cycles. Off-nadir reflections from the ice–bed interface in the center of the ice stream indicate a streamlined bed with elongated subglacial landforms. Our new bed topography model will help to improve the basal boundary conditions of NEGIS prescribed for ice flow models and thus foster an improved understanding of the ice-dynamic setting.
Satellite radar altimetry provides data to monitor winter Arctic sea-ice thickness variability on interannual, basin-wide scales. When using this technique an assumption is made that the peak of the radar return originates from the snow/ice interface. This has been shown to be true in the laboratory for cold, dry snow as is the case on Arctic sea ice during winter. However, this assumption has not been tested in the field. We use data from an airborne normal-incidence Ku-band radar altimeter and in situ field measurements, collected during the CryoSat Validation Experiment (CryoVEx) Bay of Bothnia, 2006 and 2008 field campaigns, to determine the dominant scattering surface for Arctic snow-covered sea ice. In 2006, when the snow temperatures were close to freezing, the dominant scattering surface in 25% of the radar returns appeared closer to the snow/ice interface than the air/snow interface. However, in 2008, when temperatures were lower, the dominant scattering surface appeared closer to the snow/ice interface than the air/snow interface in 80% of the returns.
We investigate snowpack properties at a site in west-central Greenland with ground-penetrating radar (GPR), supplemented by stratigraphic records from snow pits and shallow firn cores. GPR data were collected at a validation test site for CryoSat (T05 on the Expéditions Glaciologiques Internationales au Groenland (EGIG) line) over a 100 m × 100 m grid and along 1 km sections at frequencies of 500 and 800 MHz. Several internal reflection horizons (IRHs) down to a depth of 10 m were tracked. IRHs are usually related to ice-layer clusters in vertically bounded sequences that obtain their initial characteristics near the surface during the melt season. Warm conditions in the following melt season can change these characteristics by percolating meltwater. In cold conditions, smaller melt volumes at the surface can lead to faint IRHs. The absence of simple mechanisms for internal layer origin emphasizes the need for independent dating to reliably interpret remotely sensed radar data. Our GPR-derived depth of the 2003 summer surface of 1.48 m (measured in 2004) is confirmed by snow-pit observations. The distribution of IRH depths on a 1 km scale reveals a gradient of increasing accumulation to the northeast of about 5 cm w.e. km−1. We find that point measurements of accumulation in this area are representative only over several hundred metres, with uncertainties of about 15% of the spatial mean.
To understand the dynamics of ice shelves, a knowledge of their internal and basal structure is very important. As the capacity to perform local surveys is limited, remote sensing provides an opportunity to obtain the relevant information. We must prove, however, that the relevant information can be obtained from remote sensing of the surface. That is the aim of this study. The Jelbart Ice Shelf, Antarctica, exhibits a variety of surface structures appearing as stripe-like features in radar imagery. We performed an airborne geophysical survey across these features and compared the results to TerraSAR-X imagery. We find that the stripe-like structures indicate surface troughs coinciding with the location of basal channels and crevasse-like features, revealed by radio-echo sounding. HH and VV polarizations do not show different magnitude. In surface troughs, the local accumulation rate is larger than at the flat surface. Viscoelastic modelling is used to gain an understanding of the surface undulations and their origin. The surface displacement, computed with a Maxwell model, matches the observed surface reasonably well. Our simulations show that the surface troughs develop over decadal to centennial timescales.
Winter balance is an important metric for assessing the change on glaciers and ice caps, yet measuring it using ground-based techniques can be challenging. We use the European Space Agency prototype Airborne SAR/Interferometric Radar Altimeter System (ASIRAS) to extract snow depths from the received altimeter waveforms over Austfonna ice cap, Svalbard. Additionally, we attempt to distinguish the long-term firn area from other glacier facies. We validate our results using snow depth and glacier facies characterizations determined from ground-based radar profiles, snow pits and a multi-look satellite synthetic aperture radar image. We show that the depth of the winter snowpack can be extracted from the altimeter data over most of the accumulation zone, comprising wet snow zone and a superimposed ice zone. The method struggles at lower elevations where internal reflections within the winter snowpack are strong and the winter snow depth is less than ~1 m. We use the abruptness of the reflection from the last summer surface (LSS) to attempt to distinguish glacier facies. While there is a general correlation between LSS abruptness and glacier facies, we do not find a relationship that warrants a distinct classification based on ASIRAS waveforms alone.
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