West Antarctic Glacier Ice Flows and Elevation Change

  • Released Wednesday, November 2, 2011

This animation shows glacier changes detected by ATM, ICESat and ice bridge data in the highly dynamic Amundsen Embayment of West Antarctica. We know that ice speeds in this area have increased dramatically from the late 1990s to the present as the ice shelves in this area have thinned and the bottom of the ice has lost contact with the bed beneath. As the ice has accelerated, ice upstream of the coast must be stretched more vigorously, causing it to thin. NASA-sponsored aircraft missions first measured the ice surface height in this region in 2002, followed by ICESat data between 2002 and 2009. Ice Bridge aircraft have measured further surface heights in 2009 and 2010, and these measurements continue today. Integrating these altimetry sources allows us to estimate surface height changes throughout the drainage regions of the most important glaciers in the region. We see large elevation changes at the coast on Thwaites glacier, at the center of the images, and large and accelerating elevation changes extending inland from the coast on Pine Island and Smith glaciers, to the left and right of the images, respectively. The changes on Pine Island and Smith glaciers mark these as potential continuing sources of ice to the sea, and they have been surveyed in 2011 by Ice Bridge aircraft and targeted for repeat measurements in coming years.

The color bar used to show the ice velocity vector flows

The color bar used to show the ice velocity vector flows

The color bar used to show the change in elevation

The color bar used to show the change in elevation



Credits

Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

Release date

This page was originally published on Wednesday, November 2, 2011.
This page was last updated on Monday, July 15, 2024 at 12:00 AM EDT.


Missions

This visualization is related to the following missions:

Datasets used in this visualization

  • LIMA (Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica) [Landsat-7: ETM+]

    ID: 599
    Type: MosaicSensor: ETM+Dates used: Dec. 2002 to Feb. 2003

    Mosaicing to avoid clouds produced a high quality, nearly cloud-free benchmark data set of Antarctica for the International Polar Year from images collected primarily during 1999-2003.

    This dataset can be found at: http://lima.nasa.gov/

    See all pages that use this dataset
  • GLA14 (L2 Global Land Surface Altimetry Data) [ICESat: GLAS]

    ID: 716
    Sensor: GLASDates used: Dec. 2002 to Feb. 2003
  • L2 Icessn Elevation, Slope, and Roughness [IceBridge: ATM]

    ID: 717
    Sensor: ATMDates used: Dec. 2002 to Feb. 2003
  • L2 Icessn Elevation, Slope, and Roughness [Pre-IceBridge: ATM]

    ID: 718
    Sensor: ATMDates used: Nov. to Dec. 2002 and Nov. to Dec. 2004
  • BLVIS2 (L2 Geolocated Ground Elevation and Return Energy Quartiles) [Pre-IceBridge: LVIS]

    ID: 719
    Sensor: LVISDates used: 2009, updated 2010
  • Differential Interferometry [ERS-1 and ERS-2: SAR]

    ID: 720
    Sensor: SARDates used: 2008
  • L-band frequency (1.27 GHz) radar [Advanced Land Observation System (ALOS): Phased-Array Synthetic-Aperture Radar (PALSAR)]

    ID: 721
    Sensor: Phased-Array Synthetic-Aperture Radar (PALSAR)Dates used: 1994 to 1996

Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details, nor the data sets themselves on our site.