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Monday, June 11, 2012

Ice flow in Greenland for the International Polar Year 2008–2009

GREENLAND ICE SHEET, THE PRESENT: Watching that Greenland ice flow

"A digital representation of ice surface velocity is essential for a variety of glaciological, geologic and geophysical analyses and modeling. Here, we present a new, reference, comprehensive, high-resolution, digital mosaic of ice motion in Greenland assembled from satellite radar interferometry data acquired during the International Polar Year 2008 to 2009 by the Envisat Advanced Synthetic-Aperture Radar (ASAR), the Advanced Land Observation System (ALOS)'s Phase-Array L-band SAR (PALSAR) and the RADARSAT-1 SAR that covers 99% of the ice sheet in area. The best mapping performance is obtained using ALOS PALSAR data due to higher levels of temporal coherence at the L-band frequency; but C-band frequency SAR data are less affected by the ionosphere. The ice motion map reveals various flow regimes, ranging from patterned enhanced flow into a few large glaciers in the cold, low precipitation areas of north Greenland; to diffuse, enhanced flow into numerous, narrow, fast-moving glaciers in the warmer, high precipitation sectors of northwest and southeast Greenland. We find that the 100 fastest glaciers (v > 800 m/yr) drain 66% of the ice sheet in area, marine-terminating glaciers drain 88% of Greenland, and basal-sliding motion dominates internal deformation over more than 50% of the ice sheet. This view of ice sheet motion provides significant new constraints on ice flow modeling."
Citation: Rignot, E. & Mouginot, J. (2012). Ice flow in Greenland for the International Polar Year 2008–2009, Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, L11501, doi:10.1029/2012GL051634

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