Earth  ID: 3875

West Antarctic Glacier Ice Flows and Elevation Change

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.


Visualization Credits

Cindy Starr (GST): Lead Visualizer
Jefferson Beck (USRA): Producer
Benjamin E. Smith (University of Washington Applied Physics Lab Polar Science Center): Scientist
James W. Williams (GST): Project Support
Shiloh Heurich (GST): Project Support
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

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Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat)

Data Used:
Landsat-7/ETM+/Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica also referred to as: LIMA
Mosaic - NASA/GSFC, British Antarctic Survey, USGS EROS Data Center - 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.
ICESat/GLAS/L2 Global Land Surface Altimetry Data also referred to as: GLA14
NASA - Feb. 2003 to Nov. 2008
IceBridge/ATM/L2 Icessn Elevation, Slope, and Roughness
NASA - Sept. 2009 and Oct. 2010
Pre-IceBridge/ATM/L2 Icessn Elevation, Slope, and Roughness
NASA - Nov. to Dec. 2002 and Nov. to Dec. 2004
Pre-IceBridge/LVIS/L2 Geolocated Ground Elevation and Return Energy Quartiles also referred to as: BLVIS2
NASA - 2009, updated 2010
ERS-1 and ERS-2/SAR/Differential Interferometry
European Space Agency - 2008
Advanced Land Observation System (ALOS)/Phased-Array Synthetic-Aperture Radar (PALSAR)/L-band frequency (1.27 GHz) radar
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency - 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.

DLESE >> Cryology
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere >> Snow/Ice
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Hydrosphere >> Snow/Ice
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere >> Glaciers/Ice Sheets >> Glacier Elevation/Ice Sheet Elevation
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere >> Glaciers/Ice Sheets >> Glacier Motion/Ice Sheet Motion
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere >> Glaciers/Ice Sheets >> Glacier Thickness/Ice Sheet Thickness
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere >> Glaciers/Ice Sheets >> Glaciers
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere >> Glaciers/Ice Sheets >> Ice Sheets
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere >> Snow/Ice >> Ice Depth/Thickness
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere >> Snow/Ice >> Ice Motion
SVS >> Hyperwall
NASA Science >> Earth

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version