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Velocity map of the Thwaites Glacier catchment, West Antarctica

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The two-dimensional surface velocity of Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica, was mapped with 23 ascending- and 22 descending-orbit European Remote-sensing Satellite synthetic aperture radar (ERS SAR) interferograms (time range 1995–2000). The velocity map covers 175 500 km2 from the Amundsen Coast to the southern turning point of the satellite orbit and comprises > 80% of the Thwaites catchment. Relative velocity errors are <10% except for rare regions (about 5% of the total area) of unfavorable look geometry. Six individual tributaries were identified; their center-line velocities increase from 0 at the catchment boundary to ~0.3 km a−1 when they join the main glacier trunk. On the main trunk, velocity increases to ~1.8 km a−1 at the grounding line and 3.6 km a−1 on the floating tongue. As at neighboring Pine Island Glacier, no strong longitudinal velocity gradients are found except near the grounding line. Within expected error bounds, the flow pattern appears temporally stationary, i.e.flowlines agree with the delineation of flow suggested by the pattern of velocity magnitude. A potential temporal shift of tributary boundaries must consequently be <4.4 m a−1.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2004

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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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