Science Service System

Summary of Proposal HYD1864

TitleDynamicResponse of Glaciers on the Antarctic Peninsula to Climate Warming
Investigator Rott, Helmut - ENVEO IT, N/A
Team Member
Dr. Nagler, Thomas - ENVEO IT, N/A
Dr. Dana, Floricioiu - DLR, IMF
Prof. Shepherd, Andrew - University Leeds, Earth and Environment
SummaryThe project addresses amain objective of the TerraSAR-X mission: supporting investigations andunderstanding of processes causing and resulting from global climate change.The scientific theme of this project is the response of polar ice masses toclimate warming and the improvement of predictions of future sea level rise. Studyregion for the project is the Antarctic Peninsula which is experiencing drasticretreat of ice masses due to a strong signal of regional climate warming. Thishas triggered ice thinning and collapse, glacier acceleration, and increasedloss of grounded ice. There is still significant uncertainty on the numbers ofthe mass imbalance of ice masses on the Antarctic Peninsula at large, as wellas for its various sectors, and on the mechanisms driving the dynamic responseof the glaciers in response to climate warming. The main objective of theproject is to deliver precise numbers on the present mass deficit of theAntarctic Peninsula and to improve the scientific understanding on themechanism responsible for glacier acceleration and increased ice export. TerraSAR-X,with its high spatial resolution and repeat observation capability, isparticularly apt for observing these glaciers and ice streams and forsupporting accurate retrievals of ice export and glacier mass balance. Inaddition to consolidating the numbers on the contribution of the AntarcticPeninsula ice masses to sea level rise, this work will deliver substantialinformation for improving models on the response of polar ice masses to climatewarming and support predictions on future contributions of Antarctic ice massesto sea level rise. Theinput/output method will be applied for estimating glacier mass balance. Thismethod quantifies the difference between glacier mass gained through snowfalland mass lost by melt-water runoff (the input, the surface mass balance) andthe discharge of ice into the ocean (the output). On the Antarctic Peninsulathe mass depletion due to surface melt is a very small part. The output isclearly dominated the ice export at calving glacier fronts (directly into theocean) and across grounding lines (into floating ice shelves). Data on surfacemass balance for the Antarctic Peninsula are available from the RACMO regional climate and from in situ pointmeasurements of snow accumulation. For retrieval of the ice output across the calvinggates and grounding lines, fields of ice motion and estimates of ice thicknessare required which will be obtained by combination of various sources (airborneradar sounders, bathymetric data near calving fronts, precise elevation data ofthe glacier terminus by CryoSat, TanDEM-X, ICESat, airborne ATM of NASAIceBridge). The fields of ice motion of the glacier termini willbe retrieved from TerraSAR-X repeat pass images in Stripmap Mode (preferred)and ScanSAR mode. The preferred technique for retrieving ice motion maps willbe template matching in SAR amplitude images (11-, 22- ,-33 day repeat, asavailable). Data from different seasons and different years are of interest, tocheck possible temporal variations of ice motion. Deliverables of theproject will be publications in reviewed scientific journals and conferenceproceedings, presentations at TerraSAR-X Science meetings and at scientificconferences, and interim and final report on the data analysis performed,methods and results of the project.Fundingfor project work is available through two ESA projects dealing with massbalance and dynamic behaviour of glaciers on the Antarctic Peninsula (PIs H.Rott, A. Shepherd).

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