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DFloricioiu- Geophysical parameters of outlet glaciers in the Transantarctic Mountains from TerraSAR-X


A significant amount of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet‘s mass is transported into the Ross Embayment through the Transantarctic Mountains (TAM). The TAM outlet glaciers have large catchments in the Antarctic Plateau and flow through narrow fjords into the Ross Ice Shelf. They are characterized by large basal drag, minimal side drag and large driving stresses. Their dynamic behaviour is also sensitive to the presence of subglacial water. Most of these glaciers are situated at latitudes above 80°S where a limited amount of high resolution satellite data is available. During the International Polar Year acquisition of TerraSAR-X data in left looking mode was initiated in these areas close to the South Pole as collaboration between the German Aerospace Center and other space agencies and the scientific community. Our results are based on this data set and aim at a better understanding of the ice dynamics and mass balance of TAM glaciers.

The velocity fields of major TAM glaciers located south of 80°S are derived with speckle tracking applied to pairs of repeat pass TerraSAR-X. The algorithm gives robust results in these areas with rare melting and snow fall. Although the Ross Ice Shelf is buttressing all investigated TAM outlet glaciers the velocity patterns reveal major differences in their flow characteristics. These are due to various factors like the topography of the fjords and upstream presence of subglacial lakes. As complement to the surface velocity field the position of the grounding line of the TAM glaciers is derived by differential InSAR applied to TerraSAR-X. After processing three consecutive repeat pass TerraSAR-X acquisitions the distinct signature of the grounding line due to elastic bending is used to map the position of the grounding line. The recently published grounding line of Antarctica compiled with various SAR data extends over the entire coastline of Antarctica but gaps are present in the TAM. The TerraSAR-X data can thus complement Radarsat-2 based grounding lines and velocity fields through narrow glaciers at high latitudes.

Authors: Dana Floricioiu, Michael Baessler, Wael Abdel Jaber, Daniel Fernandez Amaro and Kenneth Jezek

German Aerospace Center (DLR IMF), Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH


ESA-CliC-EGU Conference on Earth Observation and Cryospheric Science, Frascati, Italy, November 13-16, 2012

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