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Spatial Sciences on Ice: 50 years of Australian activities on the Amery Ice Shelf, East Antarctica

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The Antarctic climate system involves many complex interactions between the atmosphere, oceans and ice and is sensitive to variations in these components. Ice shelves represent the ice-ocean-atmosphere interface of the Antarctic continent and are therefore very important indicators of climate change in the region. The Amery Ice Shelf is the largest ice shelf in East Antarctica and has been the focus of many scientific research projects over the past 50 years. This paper presents a history of the use of spatial science techniques from basic survey equipment to satellite systems in Australian research projects based on the Amery Ice Shelf (and surrounding glaciers) since 1955. The application of these spatial data to projects based primarily in the fields of geodesy, glaciology, climatology, and oceanography has allowed the measurement and monitoring of the physical, dynamic and environmental characteristics of this large and remote region. This new information provides scientists with a better understanding of the ice shelf/ocean/atmosphere system allowing future monitoring to observe the effects of global climate change.

Keywords: Amery Ice Shelf; Antarctica; Global Positioning System (GPS); Spatial sciences; climate change; conventional surveying; satellite remote sensing

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Tasmania, Australia

Publication date: December 1, 2008

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