Science Service System

Summary of Proposal HYD0270

TitleIce, sea ice and snow cover changes observed with TerraSAR-X, altimetry and in-situ data
Investigator Braun, Alexander - Queens University, Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering
Team Members
Prof. Shum, C.K. - The Ohio State University, School of Earth Sciences
Prof. Fotopoulos, Georgia - University of Texas at Dallas, Dept. of Geosciences
Mr. Dabboor, Mohammed - Environment Canada, Science and Technology Branch
SummaryIce sheets, sea ice and glaciers are indicators of climate change and global warming. Recent studies suggest that Arctic sea ice is thinning and the extent of sea ice significantly decreased over the last decades. Mountain glaciers retreat on all continents and some of them may disappear completely within the next 50 years. In order to understand the spatio-temporal changes in the volume and extent of sea ice, ice sheets and glaciers, satellite observations from satellite altimetry, satellite gravimetry and passive microwave sensors have delivered valuable results. However, the accuracy and the spatio-temporal resolution are sometimes insufficient to fully understand the dynamic processes of the cryosphere and to quantify the mass balance of ice sheets and glaciers. TerraSAR-X has the potential to provided high-temporal resolution through its 11-day cycle and very high spatial resolution on the meter level. The surface parameters extracted from TerraSar-X can be combined with other satellite observations (e.g. laser altimetry from ICESat) and in situ observations (snow pack and drainage parameters). The objectives of this study will address three target areas, i) changes in sea ice and wetland properties in Churchill, Hudson Bay, ii) Glacier and avalanche monitoring in the Glacier National Park, British Columbia, and iii) Fast melting glaciers in Greenland (Jakobshavn, Kangerdlugssuaq, Helheim). The common characteristic of the three areas are the surface type, which consists of ice or snow, and the rapid spatio-temporal changes. It is proposed to investigate not only the changes in extent, but also the volume changes by combining TerraSAR-X data with highly accuracte laser altimetry from ICESat. Expected results include spatio-temporal maps of the rapid processes of thinning sea ice, retreating glaciers, and mountain areas prone to avalanches.

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