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On the representation of ice-shelf grounding zones in SAR interferograms

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We investigate limitations of the one-dimensional elastic-beam model to detect grounding line and thickness of an ice shelf from a differential interferogram. Spatial limitations due to grounding-line curvature and variable ice thickness are analyzed by comparison with two-dimensional plate flexure. Temporal limitations from the tide-dependent shift of the grounding line are analyzed by superpositions of four tidal flexure profiles representing differential interferograms. (i) At scales greater than one ice thickness, seaward protrusions of the grounding line are well represented by the elastic-beam model, while landward embayments of the same scale produce significant misplacements > 10% of the ice thickness. (ii) For reasonable spatial variations of shelf thickness, the elastic-beam model gives reliable estimates of grounding-line position and unfractured mean ice thickness near the grounding line. (iii) For about 20% of superpositions of four tidal flexure profiles, the resulting grounding-line misplacements exceed the physical tidal shift of the grounding line by factors > 2. For differential tide levels < 10% of a 1m tide dynamics, a physical shift of the grounding line of 0.3 km per metre of tide can lever misplacements of > 2 km. Examples of real interferometric profiles fromWest Antarctic ice shelves corroborate our results.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2002-06-01

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  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.
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