Related Research Areas
Climate Variability & Change, Water & Energy Cycles

The connection between the destabilization of Antarctic ice shelves by thinning and disintegration, and the accelerated flow of their glaciers, has been conclusively demonstrated. The increased volume of grounded ice carried by the tributary glaciers contributes directly to sea level rise. Yet, at a time when quantifying this rise has become a scientific and public policy priority, little work has been done to characterize ice shelf thickness changes and their effects on tributary glaciers. We propose using the laser altimetry of GLAS/ICESat-1 to measure the rates of thickness change of Antarctic ice shelves in four regions: Shackleton and West, Pine Island and Thwaites, Larsen C and Brunt-Stancomb-Wills. All these ice shelves have been undergoing dynamical and structural changes between the years 2003-2009. In measuring thickness changes we will address the known sources of ambiguity in interpreting laser altimetry results. We will therefore use InSAR-measured velocities, ice-ocean numerical modeling and firn data to determine the contributions of mass advection, basal melting and freezing and firn compaction. We will then compare the rates of thickness change with time series of ice shelf basal melting and freezing from ice-ocean modeling to constrain the oceanic contribution to thickness change and thus link ice shelf evolution to climate forcing. Furthermore, we will examine elevation changes of the tributary glaciers seeking any relationship they might have with ice shelf changes. We plan to use CryoSat-2 data when they become available. The main anticipated results of the work are improved understanding of Antarctic ice shelf stability, their response to changes in ocean temperature and their impact the flow of tributary glaciers. Hence, this would be a valuable contribution to the efforts seeking improved predictions of ice shelf evolution and global sea level rise in a changing climate. This work is proposed to be conducted as Fundamental Research.

Project PI: Ala Khazendar/Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Jet Propulsion Laboratory M/S 300-319 4800 Oak Grove Drive Pasadena, CA 91109

Phone: (818) 354-4321



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Started: Sep 27, 2010

Last Activity: Jan 04, 2011


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