ESA ice sheet CCI: derivation of the optimal method for surface elevation change detection of the Greenland ice sheet – round robin results

Joanna Fredenslund Levinsen, Kirill Khvorostovsky, F. Ticconi, A. Shepherd, René Forsberg, Louise Sandberg Sørensen, A. Muir, N. Pie, D. Felikson, T. Flament

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    For more than two decades, radar altimetry missions have provided continuous elevation estimates of the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS). Here, we propose a method for using such data to estimate ice-sheet-wide surface elevation changes (SECs). The final data set will be based on observations acquired from the European Space Agency’s Environmental Satellite (ENVISAT), European Remote Sensing (ERS)-1 and -2, CryoSat-2, and, in the longer term, Sentinel-3 satellites. In order to find the best-performing method, an intercomparison exercise has been carried out in which the scientific community was asked to provide their best SEC estimates as well as feedback sheets describing the applied method. Due to the hitherto few radar-based SEC analyses as well as the higher accuracy of laser data, the participants were asked to use either ENVISAT radar or ICESat (Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite) laser altimetry over the Jakobshavn Isbræ drainage basin. The submissions were validated against airborne laser-scanner data, and intercomparisons were carried out to analyse the potential of the applied methods and to find whether the two altimeters were capable of resolving the same signal. The analyses found great potential of the applied repeat-track and cross-over techniques, and, for the first time over Greenland, that repeat-track analyses from radar altimetry agreed well with laser data. Since topography-related errors can be neglected in cross-over analyses, it is expected that the most accurate, ice-sheet-wide SEC estimates are obtained by combining the cross-over and repeat-track techniques. It is thus possible to exploit the high accuracy of the former and the large spatial data coverage of the latter. Based on CryoSat’s different operation modes, and the increased spatial and temporal data coverage, this shows good potential for a future inclusion of CryoSat-2 and Sentinel-3 data to continuously obtain accurate SEC estimates both in the interior and margin ice sheet.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalInternational Journal of Remote Sensing
    Issue number2
    Pages (from-to)551-573
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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