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A SAR record of early 21st century change in Greenland

  • IAN JOUGHIN (a1), BEN E. SMITH (a1), IAN M. HOWAT (a2), TWILA MOON (a3) and TED A. SCAMBOS (a4)...


Glaciers in Greenland are changing rapidly. To better understand these changes, we have produced a series of seven synthetic aperture radar (SAR) backscatter mosaics for seven winters during the period from 2000 to 2013. Six of the mosaics were created using RADARSAT Fine-Beam data and the seventh used ALOS-PALSAR Fine-Beam Single-Polarization data. The RADARSAT mosaics are radiometrically calibrated and capture changes in the backscatter coefficient related to melt and other events, particularly the strong melting in the summer of 2012. Comparison of features in the ascending-orbit ALOS mosaic and the descending-orbit RADARSAT mosaics indicate that in areas of smooth to moderate topography their locations are consistent to within a few tens of meters. The locations of features identifiable in the RADARSAT mosaics, which were collected with the same imaging parameters, generally agree to within better than the 20 m posting of the data. With such geometric accuracy, these data establish a record of change in Greenland for the early part of the 21st century, thus providing a baseline that can be compared with new radar and optical datasets.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Correspondence: I. Joughin <>


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