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Summary of Proposal HYD3350

TitleTotten Glacier, East Antarctic: Dynamics and Evolution
Investigator Fraser, Alexander - Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, R1.2
Team Member
Dr Legresy, Benoit - Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, R1.2
A/Prof Joughin, Ian - University of Washington, Polar Science Center
Dr Peters, Leo - Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, R1.2
Dr Roberts, Jason - Australian Antarctic Division, Glaciology
Dr Galton-Fenzi, Benjamin - Australian Antarctic Division, Glaciology
Dr Hyland, Glenn - Australian Antarctic Division, Glaciology
Ms Evans, Eleri - Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, R1.2
Summary

Global sea level fluctuations are driven by changes in the mass balance of the world’s ice sheets and mountain glaciers. These fluctuations arise from either the increased discharge of ice into the oceans of through increases in snowfall over these ice masses. While satellite-derived observations of ice mass change (i.e., through altimetry and/or gravimetry) have greatly advanced our understanding of Antarctica’s contribution to global sea level, these instruments measure cumulative effects of a number of important glacier mass balance processes which remain unresolved with altimetry/gravimetry alone. High-resolution, spatially complete maps of glacier velocity, sampled at several times throughout the year, are required to gain deeper insight into the mechanisms driving observed changes. This series of velocity maps is the primary deliverable of this proposal.

This proposal involves a campaign of targeted TerraSAR-X acquisitions over the floating and grounded portions of the Totten Glacier, East Antarctica. This glacier drains 10% of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, containing the equivalent of 6 metres of sea level rise. Grounding line retreat, glacier thinning, and mass loss have all been observed from the Totten Glacier, making it the most dynamic and significant change observed throughout East Antarctica. TerraSAR-X imagery is very well suited to produce velocity maps in this region – a region where visible feature tracking-based velocity maps often fail due to heavy snowfall in the region.

This series of ~100 image acquisitions will be targeted to coincide with field campaigns on the Totten Glacier – a region so inaccessible that in-situ field campaigns have not been conducted since the 1960s. This intensive campaign of combined in-situ and remote sensing acquisitions will shed new light on this highly dynamic and crucially important region. Tracking of persistent SAR speckles will enable calculation of the velocity field.

Funding (at the COFUR rate) for the TerraSAR-X imagery acquisitions will be provided by the Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, Australia.

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