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ICESat measurement of Greenland ice sheet surface slope and roughness

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The Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) in its 8 day repeat orbit mode provided data not only on the along-track surface slope, but also on the cross-track surface slope from adjacent repeat ground tracks. During the first 36 days of operation, four to five such repeat orbits occurred within 1 km in the cross-track direction. This provided an opportunity to use ICESat data to measure surface slope in the cross-track direction at 1 km scale. An algorithm was developed to calculate the cross-track surface slope. Combining the slopes in the cross-track and along-track directions gives a three-dimensional surface slope at 1 km scale. The along-track surface slope and surface roughness at 10 km scale are also calculated. A comparison between ICESat surface elevation and a European Remote-sensing Satellite (ERS-1) 5 km digital elevation model shows a difference of 1–2 m in central Greenland where the surface slope is small, and >20 m at the edge of Greenland where the surface slope is large. The large elevation difference at the edge is most likely due to the slope-induced error in radar altimeter measurement. Accurate surface slope data from ICESat will help to correct the slope-induced error of radar altimeter missions such as Geosat, ERS-1 and ERS-2.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: August 1, 2005

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  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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