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High-resolution bed topography mapping of Russell Glacier, Greenland, inferred from Operation IceBridge data

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. Detailed maps of bed elevation and ice thickness are essential for understanding and projecting the evolution of the ice sheets. Such maps are traditionally obtained using airborne radar-sounding profiler data interpolated onto regular grids using geostatistical tools such as kriging. Here we compare three mapping techniques applied to a dense radar survey of Russell Glacier, West Greenland, by NASA Operation IceBridge: (1) radar tomography (RT) processing of the radar data to map the bed elevation, (2) interpolation of radar-derived thickness by ordinary kriging (KR) and (3) reconstruction of ice thickness based on the principles of mass conservation (MC) combining radar-sounding profiler and ice motion data. RT eliminates ambiguities caused by off-nadir reflections, but is spatially limited. KR yields a standard error in bed elevation of 35 m, but large errors (>300 m a–1) in flux divergence when combined with ice motion data. MC yields a comparable performance in bed elevation mapping, and errors smaller than 1 m a–1 in flux divergence. When the number of radar-sounding tracks is reduced, the performance of KR decreases more rapidly than for MC. Our study site shows that MC is capable of maintaining precision levels of 60 m at 400 m posting with flight tracks separated by 5 km.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2013

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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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