Emerging Technology Monitors Ice-Sea Interface at Outlet Glaciers

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marine-terminating glaciers, radar, ocean profiler, Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, Iceland

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Recent melting in Greenland and Antarctica has led to concerns about the long-term stability of these ice sheets and their potential contributions to future sea level rise. Marine-terminating outlet glaciers play a key role in the dynamics of these ice sheets; recent mass losses are likely related to increased influx of warmer water to the base of outlet glaciers, as evidenced by the fact that changes in ocean currents, calving front retreats, glacial thinning, mass redistribution based on satellite gravity data, and accelerating coastal uplift are roughly concurrent [e.g., Holland et al., 2008; Wouters et al., 2008; Jiang et al., 2010; Straneo et al., 2012; Bevis et al., 2012]. However, collecting quantitative measurements within the dynamic environment of marine outlet glaciers is challenging. Oceanographic measurements are limited in iceberg-laden fjords. Measuring ice flow speeds near the calving front is similarly challenging; satellite methods lack temporal resolution (satellite revisit times are several days or longer), while GPS gives limited spatial resolution, a problem for assessing changes near the highly variable calving front.

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Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, v. 93, issue 48, p. 497-498