Ice Mass Balance and Ice Dynamics from Satellite Gravity Missions
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An overview of advances in ice research which can be expected from future satellite gravity missions is given. We compare present and expected future accuracies of the ice mass balance of Antarctica which might be constrained to 0.1–0.3 mm/year of sea level equivalent by satellite gravity data. A key issue for the understanding of ice mass balance is the separation of secular and interannual variations. For this aim, one would strongly benefit from longer uninterrupted time series of gravity field variations (10 years or more). An accuracy of 0.01 mm/year for geoid time variability with a spatial resolution of 100 km would improve the separability of ice mass balance from mass change due to glacial isostatic adjustment and enable the determination of regional variations in ice mass balance within the ice sheets. Thereby the determination of ice compaction is critical for the exploitation of such high accuracy data. A further benefit of improved gravity field models from future satellite missions would be the improvement of the height reference in the polar areas, which is important for the study of coastal ice processes. Sea ice thickness determination and modelling of ice bottom topography could be improved as well.
KeywordsGeoid time variation ice mass balance ice thickness satellite gravity missions sea level change
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