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Ice-dynamic conditions of Shirase Glacier, Antarctica, inferred from ERS SAR interferometry

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The surface velocity field of Shirase Glacier, a fast-flowing East Antarctic outlet glacier, is determined from ERS synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images by means of speckle tracking using phase correlation, a technique which matches small image kernels of two complex SAR images by maximization of the local coherence. Velocity estimates are used to calculate surface strain rates, which are then used to calculate the large-scale, vertically integrated force balance and to determine the major stress components resisting the driving stress. For the whole glacier system, the driving stress is largely balanced by the basal drag, but with contributions from lateral drag up to 15% of the driving stress at the grounding line. Longitudinal stress gradients have only local importance to the balance of forces, limited to an area of a few square kilometers near the grounding line, where they resist the driving stress. In the grounded part of the glacier, >90% of the total ice velocity is due to basal sliding. Comparison with a balance-flux distribution of the Antarctic ice sheet suggests that the glacier in the downstream part of the Shirase drainage basin is close to equilibrium, showing a slight negative imbalance.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2002

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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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