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New velocity map and mass-balance estimate of Mertz Glacier, East Antarctica, derived from Landsat sequential imagery

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Automatic feature tracking on two Landsat images (acquired in January 2000 and December 2001) generates a complete and accurate velocity field of Mertz Glacier, East Antarctica. This velocity field shows two main tributaries to the ice stream. Between the tributaries, a likely obstruction feature in the bedrock results in a slow-down of the flow. A third Landsat image, acquired in 1989 and combined with the 2000 image, permits the determination of the glacier mean velocity during the 1990s. Although some parts of the Mertz Glacier system show evidence of slight speed increase, we conclude that the Mertz flow speed is constant within our uncertainty (35 m a-1). Using this complete velocity field, new estimates of the ice discharge flux, 17.8 km 3a-1(16.4 Gt a-1), and of the basal melting of the tongue, 11m a-1of ice, are given. Our results lead to an apparent imbalance of the drainage basin (ice discharge 3.5 km3a-1lower than the accumulation). Considering previous studies in the Mertz Glacier area, we then discuss the uncertainty of this imbalance and the problems with accumulation mapping for this region

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2003

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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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