Bias in GRACE estimates of ice mass change due to accompanying sea-level change
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Observations of spatio-temporal variations in the geopotential using the GRACE satellites have been used to estimate recent mass fluxes from polar ice sheets and glaciers. However, these estimates have not considered the potential bias associated with the migration of water that accompanies the ice melt. This migration is driven by the diminished gravitational attraction of the melting ice reservoir, and this migration, as well as the crustal loading it induces, will contribute to the observed geopotential anomaly. The extent to which this contribution contaminates the ice mass flux estimates depends on how far the smoothing filters applied to the GRACE data extend beyond the ice margins into the ocean. Using the Antarctic Peninsula as a case study, we estimate the magnitude of this bias for a range of melt areas and Gaussian smoothing filter radii. We conclude that GRACE estimates of ice mass loss over the Antarctic Peninsula are systematically overestimating the loss by up to 10 \(\%\) for filter radii of less than 500 km.
KeywordsGRACE Satellite gravity Ice mass change estimates Hydrology Sea level change
The authors would like to thank Frederik J. Simons for the use of his MATLAB code library, and Chris Harig for useful discussions. MGS was supported by a Canadian Institute for Advanced Research Postdoctoral Fellowship (CIFAR).
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