Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Mapping the grounding zone of the Amery Ice Shelf, East Antarctica using InSAR, MODIS and ICESat

  • Helen Amanda Fricker (a1), Richard Coleman (a2) (a3) (a4), Laurie Padman (a5), Ted A. Scambos (a6), Jennifer Bohlander (a6) and Kelly M. Brunt (a1)...

We use a combination of satellite techniques (interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR), visible-band imagery, and repeat-track laser altimetry) to develop a benchmark map for the Amery Ice Shelf (AIS) grounding zone (GZ), including its islands and ice rises. The break-in-slope, as an indirect estimate of grounding line location, was mapped for the entire AIS. We have also mapped ∼55% of the landward edge and ∼30% of the seaward edge of the ice shelf flexure boundary for the AIS perimeter. Vertical ice motion from Global Positioning System receivers confirms the location of the satellite-derived GZ in two regions. Our map redefines the extent of floating ice in the south-western AIS and identifies several previously unmapped grounded regions, improving our understanding of the stresses supporting the current dynamical state of the ice shelf. Finally, we identify three along-flow channels in the ice shelf basal topography, approximately 10 km apart, 1.5 km wide and 300–500 m deep, near the southern GZ. These channels, which form at the suture zones between ice streams, may represent zones of potential weakness in the ice shelf and may influence sub-ice-shelf ocean circulation.

    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Mapping the grounding zone of the Amery Ice Shelf, East Antarctica using InSAR, MODIS and ICESat
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Mapping the grounding zone of the Amery Ice Shelf, East Antarctica using InSAR, MODIS and ICESat
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Mapping the grounding zone of the Amery Ice Shelf, East Antarctica using InSAR, MODIS and ICESat
      Available formats
Corresponding author
Hide All
Budd W.F., Corry M.J. Jacka T.H. 1982. Results from the Amery Ice Shelf project. Annals of Glaciology, 3, 3641.
Chelton D.B. Enfield D.B. 1986. Ocean signals in tide gauge records. Journal of Geophysical Research, 91, 90819098.
Chen G. 1998. GPS Kinematic positioning for the Airborne Laser Altimetry at Long Valley, California. PhD thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, 173 pp.
Corr H.F.J., Doake C.S.M., Jenkins A. Vaughan D.G. 2001. Investigations of an “ice plain” in the mouth of Pine Island Glacier, Antarctica. Journal of Glaciology, 47, 5157.
Craven M., Allison I., Fricker H.A. Warner R. In press. Properties of the marine ice layer under the Amery Ice Shelf. Journal of Glaciology.
Craven M., Carsey F., Behar A., Matthews J., Brand R., Elcheikh A., Hall S. Treverrow A. 2005. Borehole imagery of meteoric and marine ice layers in the Amery Ice Shelf. Journal of Glaciology, 51, 7584.
Fricker H.A. Padman L. 2006. Ice shelf grounding zone structure from ICESat laser altimetry. Geophysical Research Letters, 33, 10.1029/2006GL026907.
Fricker H.A., Hyland G., Coleman R. Young N.W. 2000. Digital elevation models for the Lambert Glacier–Amery Ice Shelf system, East Antarctica, from ERS-1 satellite radar altimetry. Journal of Glaciology, 46, 553560.
Fricker H.A., Popov S., Allison I. Young N.W. 2001. Distribution of marine ice beneath the Amery Ice Shelf. Geophysical Research Letters, 28, 22412244.
Fricker H.A., Young N.W., Allison I. Coleman R. 2002b. Iceberg calving from the Amery Ice Shelf, East Antarctica. Annals of Glaciology, 34, 241246.
Fricker H.A., Allison I., Craven M., Hyland G., Ruddell A., Young N., Coleman R., King M., Krebs K. Popov S. 2002a. Redefinition of the grounding zone of Amery Ice Shelf, East Antarctica. Journal of Geophysical Research, 107, 10.1029/2001JB000383.
Galton-Fenzi B., Maraldi C., Coleman R. Hunter J. 2008. The cavity under the Amery Ice Shelf, East Antarctica. Journal of Glaciology, 54, 881887.
Goldstein R.M., Engelhardt H., Kamb B. Frolich R.M. 1993. Satellite radar interferometry for monitoring ice sheet motion: application to an Antarctic ice stream. Science, 262, 15251530.
Gray L., Short N., Bindschadler R., Joughin I., Padman L., Vornberger P. Khananian A. 2002. RADARSAT interferometry for Antarctic grounding zone mapping. Annals of Glaciology, 34, 269276.
Haran T.M., Fahnestock M.A. Scambos T.A. 2002. De-striping of MODIS optical bands for ice sheet mapping and topography. Eos Transaction of the American Geophysical Union, 88, F317.
Hemer M.A., Hunter J.H. Coleman R. 2006. Barotropic tides beneath the Amery Ice Shelf. Journal of Geophysical Research, 111, 10.1029/2006JGRC.11111008H.
Holdsworth G. 1969. Flexure of a floating ice tongue. Journal of Glaciology, 8, 385397.
Horgan H.J. Anandakrishnan S. 2006. Static grounding lines and dynamic ice streams: evidence from the Siple Coast, West Antarctica. Geophysical Research Letters, 33, 10.1029/2006GL027091.
Joughin I. 2002. Ice-sheet velocity mapping: a combined interferometric and speckle-tracking approach. Annals of Glaciology, 34, 195201.
King M. Aoki S. 2003. Tidal observations on floating ice using a single GPS receiver. Geophysical Research Letters, 30, 10.1029/2002GL016182.
King R.W. Bock Y. 2006. Documentation for the GAMIT GPS analysis software, version 10.3. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
King M.A., Coleman R., Morgan P.J. Hurd R.S. 2007. Velocity change of the Amery Ice Shelf, East Antarctica, during the period 1968–1999. Journal of Geophysical Research, 112, 10.1029/2006JF000609.
King M.A., Nguyen N.L., Coleman R. Morgan P.J. 2000. GPS measurements on the Amery Ice Shelf, East Antarctica. GPS Solutions, 4, 212.
King M.A., Coleman R., Freemantle A., Fricker H.A., Hurd R.S., Legrésy B., Padman L. Warner R. 2009. A four-decade record of elevation change of the Amery Ice Shelf, East Antarctica. Journal of Geophysical Research, 114, 10.1029/2008JF001094.
Lacroix P., Legresy B., Coleman R., Dechambre M. Remy F. 2007. Dual-frequency altimeter signal from Envisat on the Amery Ice Shelf. Remote Sensing of Environment, 109, 285294.
Lemke P., Ren J., Alley R.B., Allison I., Carrasco J., Flato G., Fujii Y., Kaser G., Mote P., Thomas R.H. Zhang T. 2007. Observations: changes in snow, ice and frozen ground. In Solomon, S., Qin, D., Manning, M., Chen, Z., Marquis, M., Averyt, K.B., Tignor, M. & Miller, H.L., eds. Climate change 2007: the physical science basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 339383.
Padman L., Fricker H.A., Coleman R., Howard S.L. Erofeeva S. 2002. A new tide model for the Antarctic ice shelves and seas. Annals of Glaciology, 34, 247254.
Padman L., King M., Goring D., Corr H. Coleman R. 2003. Ice shelf elevation changes due to atmospheric pressure variations. Journal of Glaciology, 49, 521526.
Phillips H.A. 1998. Surface meltstreams on the Amery Ice Shelf, East Antarctica. Annals of Glaciology, 27, 177181.
Rabus B. Lang O. 2002. On the representation of ice-shelf grounding zones in SAR interferograms. Journal of Glaciology, 46, 345356.
Riedel B., Nixdorf U., Heinert M., Eckstaller A. Mayer C. 1999. The response of the Ekströmisen (Antarctica) grounding zone to tidal forcing. Annals of Glaciology, 29, 239242.
Rignot E. 1998a. Fast recession of a West Antarctic glacier. Science, 281, 549551.
Rignot E. 1998b. Hinge-line migration of Petermann Gletscher, north Greenland, detected using satellite-radar Interferometry. Journal of Glaciology, 44, 469476.
Rignot E. 2002. Mass balance of East Antarctic glaciers and ice shelves from satellite data. Annals of Glaciology, 34, 217227.
Rignot E. MacAyeal D.R. 1998. Ice-shelf dynamics near the front of the Filchner–Ronne Ice Shelf, Antarctica, revealed by SAR interferometry. Journal of Glaciology, 44, 405418.
Rignot E. Steffen K. 2008. Channelized bottom melting and stability of floating ice shelves. Geophysical Research Letters, 35, 10:1029/21007GL031765.
Rignot E., Padman L., MacAyeal D.R. Schmeltz M. 2000. Observation of ocean tides below the Filchner and Ronne Ice Shelves, Antarctica, using synthetic aperture radar: comparison with tide model predictions. Journal of Geophysical Research, 105, 1961519630.
Sandwell D.T. Price E.J. 1998. Phase gradient approach to stacking interferograms. Journal of Geophysical Research, 103, 3018330204.
Scambos T.A., Hulbe C. Fahnestock M.A. 2003. Climate-induced ice shelf disintegration in the Antarctic Peninsula. Antarctic Research Series, 79, 7992.
Scambos T., Kvaran G. Fahnestock M. 1999. Improving AVHRR resolution through data cumulation for mapping polar ice sheets. Remote Sensing of the Environment, 69, 5666.
Scambos T., Hulbe C., Fahnestock M. Bohlander J. 2000. The link between climate warming and break-up of ice shelves in the Antarctic Peninsula. Journal of Glaciology, 46, 516530.
Scambos T.A., Haran T.M., Fahnestock M.A., Painter T.H. Bohlander J. 2007. MODIS-based mosaic of Antarctica (MOA) data sets: continent-wide surface morphology and snow grain size. Remote Sensing of the Environment, 111, 10.1016/j.rse.2006.12.020.
Schmeltz M., Rignot E. MacAyeal D.R. 2001. Ephemeral grounding as a signal of ice shelf change. Journal of Glaciology, 47, 7177.
Shepherd A., Wingham D., Payne T. Skvarca P. 2003. Larsen Ice Shelf has progressively thinned. Science, 302, 856859.
Shuman C.A., Zwally H.J., Schutz B.E., Brenner A.C., DiMarzio J.P., Suchdeo V.P. Fricker H.A. 2006. ICESat Antarctic elevation data: preliminary precision and accuracy assessment. Geophysical Research Letters, 33, 10.1029/2005GL025227.
Stephenson S.N., Doake C.S.M. Horsfall J.A.C. 1979. Tidal flexure of ice shelves measured by tiltmeter. Nature, 282, 496497.
Turcotte D.L. Schubert G. 2001. Geodynamics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 528 pp.
Vaughan D.G. 1994. Investigating tidal flexure on an ice shelf using kinematic GPS. Annals of Glaciology, 20, 372376.
Vaughan D.G. 1995. Tidal flexure at ice shelf margins. Journal of Geophysical Research, 100, 62136224.
Young N.W. Hyland G. 2002. Velocity and strain rates derived from InSAR analysis over the Amery Ice Shelf. Annals of Glaciology, 34, 228234.
Zhang X. Andersen O.B. 2006. Surface ice flow velocity and tide retrieval of the Amery Ice Shelf using precise point positioning. Journal of Geodesy, 80, 171176.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Antarctic Science
  • ISSN: 0954-1020
  • EISSN: 1365-2079
  • URL: /core/journals/antarctic-science
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 14
Total number of PDF views: 105 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 320 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 20th October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.