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Non-steady-state vertical velocities of up to 5 m a(-1) exceed the vertical surface-parallel flow (SPF) components over much of the ablation area of Storstrommen, a large outlet glacier from the East Greenland ice sheet. Neglecting a contribution to the vertical velocity of this magnitude results in substantial errors (up to 20%) also on the south-north component of horizontal velocities derived by satellite synthetic aperture radar interferometry (InSAR) measurements. In many glacier environments, the steady-state vertical velocity component required to balance the annual ablation rate is 5-10 m a(-1) or more. This indicates that the SPF assumption may be problematic also for glaciers in steady state. Here we derive the three-dimensional surface velocity distribution of Storstrommen by using the principle of mass conservation (MC) to combine InSAR measurements from ascending and descending satellite tracks with airborne ice-sounding radar measurement of ice thickness. The results are compared to InSAR velocities previously derived by using the SPF assumption, and to velocities obtained by in situ global positioning system (GPS) measurements. The velocities derived by using the MC principle are in better agreement with the GPS velocities than the previously calculated velocities derived with the SPF assumption.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Glaciology
Issue number165
Pages (from-to)201-209
StatePublished - 2003
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ID: 2616783