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Monitoring snow and ice surfaces on King George Island, Antarctic Peninsula, with high-resolution TerraSAR-X time series

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 November 2015

U. Falk*
Affiliation:
Center for Remote Sensing of Land Surfaces, University of Bonn, Walter-Flex-Str. 3, D-53113 Bonn, Germany
H. Gieseke
Affiliation:
Center for Remote Sensing of Land Surfaces, University of Bonn, Walter-Flex-Str. 3, D-53113 Bonn, Germany
F. Kotzur
Affiliation:
Center for Remote Sensing of Land Surfaces, University of Bonn, Walter-Flex-Str. 3, D-53113 Bonn, Germany
M. Braun
Affiliation:
Institute of Geography, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Kochstr. 4/4, D-91054 Erlangen, Germany Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 903 Koyukuk Drive, Fairbanks AK 99775-7320, USA

Abstract

Changes of glaciers and snow cover in polar regions affect a wide range of physical and ecosystem processes on land and in the adjacent marine environment. In this study, we investigated the potential of 11-day repeat high-resolution satellite image time series from the TerraSAR-X mission to derive glaciological and hydrological parameters on King George Island, Antarctica, between 25 October 2010 and 19 April 2011. The spatial pattern and temporal evolution of snow cover extent on ice-free areas can be monitored using multi-temporal coherence images. Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) coherence is used to map glacier extent of land-terminating glaciers with an average accuracy of 25 m. Multi-temporal SAR colour composites identify the position of the late summer snow line at ~220 m a.s.l. Glacier surface velocities are obtained from intensity feature-tracking. Surface velocities near the calving front of Fourcade Glacier were up to 1.8±0.01 m d-1. Using an intercept theorem based on fundamental geometric principles together with differential GPS field measurements, the ice discharge of Fourcade Glacier was estimated at 20 700±5500 m3 d-1 (corresponding to ~19±5 kt d-1). The rapidly changing surface conditions on King George Island and the lack of high-resolution digital elevation models for the region remain restrictions for the applicability of SAR data and the precision of derived products. Supplemental data are available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1594/PANGAEA.853954.

Type
Physical Sciences
Copyright
© Antarctic Science Ltd 2015 

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Monitoring snow and ice surfaces on King George Island, Antarctic Peninsula, with high-resolution TerraSAR-X time series
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