Improving maps of ice-sheet surface elevation change using combined laser altimeter and stereoscopic elevation model data

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Abstract:

We combine the complementary characteristics of laser altimeter data and stereoscopic digital elevation models (DEMs) to construct high-resolution (∼100 m) maps of surface elevations and elevation changes over rapidly changing outlet glaciers in Greenland. Measurements from spaceborne and airborne laser altimeters have relatively low errors but are spatially limited to the ground tracks, while DEMs have larger errors but provide spatially continuous surfaces. The principle of our method is to fit the DEM surface to the altimeter point clouds in time and space to minimize the DEM errors and use that surface to extrapolate elevations away from altimeter flight lines. This reduces the DEM registration errors and fills the gap between the altimeter paths. We use data from ICESat and ATM as well as SPOT 5 DEMs from 2007 and 2008 and apply them to the outlet glaciers Jakobshavn Isbrae (JI) and Kangerdlugssuaq (KL). We find that the main trunks of JI and KL lowered at rates of 30–35 and 7–20 m a–1, respectively. The rates decreased inland. The corresponding errors were 0.3–5.2 m a–1 for JI and 0.3–5.1 m a–1 for KL, with errors increasing proportionally with distance from the altimeter paths.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3189/2013JoG12J114

Publication date: July 1, 2013

More about this publication?
  • 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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