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Earth Surface & Interior

Polar ice sheets are significant contributors to sea level change at present, their contribution is increasing with time, and they are expected to become the dominant contribution to sea level change in the future. Here, we propose to combine observations from multiple satellite techniques and climate reconstructions to determine the mass balance of the Antarctic, Greenland and Patagonia ice sheets and their impact on sea level change. We have assembled a team of experts from multiple institutions and countries to focus on our proposed science goals. The data that will be gathered and analyzed include multi-temporal observations of ice motion from multiple satellite radar interferometry (InSAR) missions, ice thickness from national and international airborne radars, surface mass balance from the University of Utrecht's regional climate model (RACMO), and time-variable gravity from NASA's GRACE mission. The analysis will provide insights about the physical processes that control ice sheet mass loss, the partitioning in mass loss, detailed information on the spatial and temporal trends in mass loss in these three regions, and the associated uncertainties and limitations. A particular emphasis will be placed on the synergistic analysis of GRACE and InSAR/RACMO/thickness data to solve for the mass budgets and reduce prior uncertainties in mass balance, and on the detailed analysis of areas of rapid change and significant contribution to sea level. We will then employ the mass balance results to calculate the pattern of sea level change associated with the present-day melting of these ice sheets using the University of Colorado's elastic model of the solid Earth. This will provide information on the rate of sea level change caused by ice sheet melting in various parts of the World based on observations of ice sheet melting. Altogether, the results of this project will provide the most reliable and up-to-date estimates of ice sheet loss up to present, a detailed estimation of the associated uncertainties, and an estimation of the present-day impact of melting ice sheets in Antarctica, Greenland and Patagonia on the spatial and temporal patterns of sea level change and associated uncertainties. Ice sheet mass balance and contribution to sea level change are of direct interest to NASA Earth Science focus and a major focal point of sub-element 4 on "global sea level in a varying and changing climate" of this NRA.

Project PI: Eric Rignot/University of California Irvine

University of California, Irvine Croul Hall Irvine, CA 92697

Phone: (949) 824-3739

Fax: (818) 393-5184

Email: erignot@uci.edu 

http://www.faculty.uci.edu/profile.cfm?faculty_id=5467

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Started: Sep 29, 2010

Last Activity: Jan 05, 2011

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