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Mapping blue-ice areas in Antarctica using ETM+ and MODIS data

  • Fengming Hui (a1), Tianyu Ci (a1), Xiao Cheng (a1), Ted A. Scambo (a2), Yan Liu (a1), Yanmei Zhang (a3), Zhaohui Chi (a4), Huabing Huang (a1), Xianwei Wang (a1), Fang Wang (a1), Chen Zhao (a1), Zhenyu Jin (a1) (a5) and Kun Wang (a1)...

Blue-ice areas (BIAs) and their geographical distribution in Antarctica were mapped using Landsat-7 ETM+ images with 15 m spatial resolution obtained during the 1999–2003 austral summers and covering the area north of 82.5° S, and a snow grain-size image of the MODIS-based Mosaic of Antarctica (MOA) dataset with 125 m grid spacing acquired during the 2003/04 austral summer from 82.5°S to the South Pole. A map of BIAs was created with algorithms of thresholds based on band ratio and reflectance for ETM+ data and thresholds based on snow grain size for the MOA dataset. The underlying principle is that blue ice can be separated from snow or rock by their spectral discrepancies and by different grain sizes of snow and ice. We estimate the total area of BIAs in Antarctica during the data acquisition period is 234 549 km2, or 1.67% of the area of the continent. Blue ice is scattered widely over the continent but is generally located in coastal or mountainous regions. The BIA dataset presented in this study is the first map covering the entire Antarctic continent sourced solely from ETM+ and MODIS data. This dataset can potentially benefit other studies in glaciology, meteorology, climatology and paleoclimate, meteorite collection and airstrip site selection.

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