Improving maps of ice-sheet surface elevation change using combined laser altimeter and stereoscopic elevation model data

Joanna Fredenslund Levinsen, I. M. Howat, C. C. Tscherning

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We combine the complementary characteristics of laser altimeter data and stereoscopic digital elevation models (DEMs) to construct high-resolution (_100 m) maps of surface elevations and elevation changes over rapidly changing outlet glaciers in Greenland. Measurements from spaceborne and airborne laser altimeters have relatively low errors but are spatially limited to the ground tracks, while DEMs have larger errors but provide spatially continuous surfaces. The principle of our method is to fit the DEM surface to the altimeter point clouds in time and space to minimize the DEM errors and use that surface to extrapolate elevations away from altimeter flight lines. This reduces the DEM registration errors and fills the gap between the altimeter paths. We use data from ICESat and ATM as well as SPOT 5 DEMs from 2007 and 2008 and apply them to the outlet glaciers Jakobshavn Isbræ (JI) and Kangerdlugssuaq (KL). We find that the main trunks of JI and KL lowered at rates of 30–35 and 7–20ma_1, respectively. The rates decreased inland. The corresponding errors were 0.3–5.2ma_1 for JI and 0.3–5.1ma_1 for KL, with errors increasing proportionally with distance from the altimeter paths.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Glaciology
Issue number215
Pages (from-to)524-532
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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