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Climate Variability & Change

The response of the cryosphere to global warming has significant ramifications for society. The ability to predict rates of global climatic change, melting ice, and rising seas through the next century relies on an accurate understanding (and modeling) of glacier and ice sheet behavior. The main objective of the ICESat-II satellite laser altimetry mission is to determine the mass balance of polar ice sheets and their contributions to current sea level changes. The accuracy of ice sheet change estimates derived from satellite laser altimetry is influenced by several factors, such as shot-to-shot laser measurement accuracy, pointing knowledge, interpolation errors, and errors caused by atmospheric effects. Moreover, ice sheet elevation changes are characterized by significant spatial and temporal variations caused by differences in snow accumulation, ablation, firn compaction as well as dynamic processes related to ice flow. In order to improve the elevation change estimates I propose to evaluate the ICESat-II design parameters and to examine different change detection algorithms. Specifically, I propose the following contributions to NASA's planned ICESat-II mission: (1) Development of ice sheet surface models (elevation and roughness distribution) by fusing information derived from airborne and satellite laser altimetry measurements,imagery and in-situ data. The generation of DEMs, augmented with description of surface roughness distribution is proposed for the Greenland Ice Sheet and for drainage basins of some of the major outlet glaciers draining of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. Areas of rapid changes will be updated yearly. (2) Comprehensive evaluation of ICESat-II design parameters, including error propagation and simulation studies for selecting the best footprint size and spacing as well as for designing the across-track multi-beam laser channel. To achieve this goal ICESat-II measurements will be simulated over ice sheet surface models and data from the ongoing ICESat mission will be analyzed. (3) Computation of surface elevation changes from cross-over and repeat-track measurements and from larger aerial coverage (a) by assuming linear surface trends with constant slope and (b) by using higher-order parametric forms for describing surface shapes and their temporal change. (4) Combination of results from climate models and in-situ observations with altimetry data to determine the spatial pattern of surface elevation and mass changes. (5) Design of calibration and validation experiments of ICESat-II. Of particular interest is the validation of measured seasonal changes in ice sheet elevation and mass balance that will include field studies by repeat laser scanning combined with ice penetrating radar measurements and in-situ measurements of accumulation from ice cores as well as cross-validation with other spaceborne sensors.

Project PI: Beata Csatho/University at Buffalo

855 Natural Sciences Complex,Department of Geology | 411 Cooke Hall | Buffalo, NY 14260-1350

Phone: (716)645-4325

Email: bcsatho@buffalo.edu

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Started: Aug 10, 2010

Last Activity: Dec 15, 2010

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