Science Service System

Summary of Proposal LAN1641

TitleCharacterising Marine Instability of the Antarctic Ice Sheet.
Investigator Shepherd, Andrew - University of Leeds, School of Earth and Environment
Team Member
Professor Shepherd, Andrew - University of Leeds, School of Earth and Environment
SummaryDynamical processes related to ice sheet flow are not included in the models that formed the basis of the recent assessment of the IPCC, and the potential impact of changes in ice sheet dynamics are the major uncertainty in projections of 21st century sea-level rise. According to the IPCC, our ability to predict future sea levels is limited due to shortcomings in our understanding of two key processes affecting ice sheet flow: (1) basal lubrication due to surface melt-water penetrating to the ice bed, and (2) reductions in glacier traction associated with ocean-driven melting at glacier termini. In a recent paper (Sundal et al.,2011) we addressed the first of these shortcomings by analysing the long-term impacts of surface melting on Greenland ice sheet flow using satellite radar data. Here, we propose a 2-year project to address the second shortcoming by characterising ice dynamical changes of marine-based sectors of the Antarctic Ice Sheet, and assessing how these changes may affect the ice sheet’s future stability. We will employ the technique of InSAR to develop time-series of ice sheet velocity variations,grounding line migration, and change in mass balance of key drainage basins within the Amundsen Sea sector in West Antarctica and the Wilkes Land in East Antarctica where ice dynamical thinning have been observed (e.g. Shepherd &Wingham, 2008; Pritchard et al., 2009). These results will be compared to time-series of elevation change derived from radar satellite altimeter which are available from the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM) through project PI Shepherd. These independent observations will increase the certainty of the observed changes and improve the observational inputs required for validating and constraining ice sheet models. TSXStrip Map mode SAR data is required for this project to make ice velocity measurements in the 3 study areas considered. The volume of data requested is based on the need to get sufficient spatial and temporal coverage over each study area in order to process a dense ice velocity time series.

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