Mathematical Geology

, Volume 29, Issue 7, pp 859–890 | Cite as

Monitoring Changes of Ice Streams Using Time Series of Satellite-Altimetry-Based Digital Terrain Models

  • Ute C. Herzfeld
  • Craig S. Lingle
  • Cecily Freeman
  • Chris A. Higginson
  • Michael P. Lambert
  • Li-Her Lee
  • Vera A. Voronina


The Antarctic Ice Sheet plays a major role in the global system, and the large ice streams discharging into the circumpolar sea represent its gateways to the world's oceans. Satellite radar altimeter data provide an opportunity for mapping surface elevation at kilometer-resolution with meter-accuracy. Geostatistical methods have been developed for the analysis of these data. Applications to Seasat data and data from the Geosat Exact Repeat Mission indicate that the grounding line of Lambert Glacier/Amery Ice Shelf, the largest ice stream in East Antarctica, has advanced 10–12 km between 1978 and 1987–89. The objectives of this paper are to explore possibilities and limitations of satellite-altimetry-based mapping to capture changes for shorter time windows and for smaller areas, and to investigate some methodological aspects of the data analysis. We establish that one season of radar altimeter data is sufficient for constructing a map. This allows study of interannual variation and is the key for a time-series analysis approach to study changes in ice streams. Maps of the lower Lambert Glacier and the entire Amery Ice Shelf are presented for austral winters 1978, 1987, 1988, and 1989. As a first step toward understanding the dynamics of the ice-stream/ice-shelf system, elevation changes are calculated for grounded ice, the grounding zone, and floating ice. In the absence of (sufficient) surface gravity control for the Lambert Glacier/Amery Ice Shelf area, altimetry-based maps may facilitate improvement of geoid models as they provide constraints on the terrain correction in the inverse gravimetric problem.

Lambert Glacier/Amery Ice Shelf geostatistical evaluation Seasat Geosat grounding line elevation changes 


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Copyright information

© International Association for Mathematical Geology 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ute C. Herzfeld
    • 1
    • 4
  • Craig S. Lingle
    • 2
  • Cecily Freeman
    • 3
  • Chris A. Higginson
    • 1
  • Michael P. Lambert
    • 3
  • Li-Her Lee
    • 3
  • Vera A. Voronina
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of Arctic and Alpine ResearchUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  2. 2.Geophysical InstituteUniversity of Alaska FairbanksFairbanksUSA
  3. 3.Scripps Institution of OceanographyUniversity of California San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  4. 4.Geomathematik, Fachbereich GeowissenschaftenUniversität TrierTrierGermany

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