Ice Shelf Melt Rates and 3D Imaging
Lewis, Cameron Scott
University of Kansas
Electrical Engineering & Computer Science
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Ice shelves are sensitive indicators of climate change and play a critical role in the stability of ice sheets and oceanic currents. Basal melting of ice shelves plays an important role in both the mass balance of the ice sheet and the global climate system. Airborne- and satellite based remote sensing systems can perform thickness measurements of ice shelves. Time separated repeat flight tracks over ice shelves of interest generate data sets that can be used to derive basal melt rates using traditional glaciological techniques. Many previous melt rate studies have relied on surface elevation data gathered by airborne- and satellite based altimeters. These systems infer melt rates by assuming hydrostatic equilibrium, an assumption that may not be accurate, especially near an ice shelf’s grounding line. Moderate bandwidth, VHF, ice penetrating radar has been used to measure ice shelf profiles with relatively coarse resolution. This study presents the application of an ultra wide bandwidth (UWB), UHF, ice penetrating radar to obtain finer resolution data on the ice shelves. These data reveal significant details about the basal interface, including the locations and depth of bottom crevasses and deviations from hydrostatic equilibrium. While our single channel radar provides new insight into ice shelf structure, it only images a small swatch of the shelf, which is assumed to be an average of the total shelf behavior. This study takes an additional step by investigating the application of a 3D imaging technique to a data set collected using a ground based multi channel version of the UWB radar. The intent is to show that the UWB radar could be capable of providing a wider swath 3D image of an ice shelf. The 3D images can then be used to obtain a more complete estimate of the bottom melt rates of ice shelves.
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