Continuously accelerating ice loss over Amundsen Sea catchment, West Antarctica, revealed by integrating altimetry and GRACE data

Hyongki Lee, C. K. Shum, Ian M. Howat, Andrew Monaghan, Yushin Ahn, Jianbin Duan, Jun Yi Guo, Chung-Yen Kuo, Lei Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Satellite altimetry and Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) measurements have provided contemporary, but substantially different Antarctic ice sheet mass balance estimates. Altimetry provides no information about firn density while GRACE data is significantly impacted by poorly constrained glacial isostatic adjustment signals. Here, we combine Envisat radar altimetry and GRACE data over the Amundsen Sea (AS) sector, West Antarctica, to estimate the basin-wide averaged snow and firn column density over a seasonal time scale. Removing the firn variability signal from Envisat-observed ice-sheet elevation changes reveals more rapid dynamic thinning of underlying ice. We report that the net AS sector mass change rates are estimated to be -47±8Gtyr -1 between 2002 and 2006, and -80±4Gtyr -1 between2007 and 2009, equivalent to a sea level rise of 0.13 and 0.22mmyr -1, respectively. The acceleration is due to a combination of decreased snowfall accumulation (+13Gtyr -1 in 2002-2006, and -6Gtyr -1 in 2007-2009) and enhanced ice dynamic thinning (-60±10Gtyr -1 in 2002-2006, and -74±11Gtyr -1 in 2007-2009) after 2007. Because there is no significant snowfall trend over the past 21yr (1989-2009) and an increase in ice flow speed (2003-2010), the accelerated mass loss is likely to continue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-80
Number of pages7
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume321-322
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Mar 1

Fingerprint

altimetry
firn
GRACE
Ice
Antarctic regions
Catchments
climate
Gravitation
ice
recovery
catchment
gravitation
Recovery
Snow
thinning
ice sheet
radar altimetry
satellite altimetry
Experiments
ice flow

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science

Cite this

Lee, Hyongki ; Shum, C. K. ; Howat, Ian M. ; Monaghan, Andrew ; Ahn, Yushin ; Duan, Jianbin ; Guo, Jun Yi ; Kuo, Chung-Yen ; Wang, Lei. / Continuously accelerating ice loss over Amundsen Sea catchment, West Antarctica, revealed by integrating altimetry and GRACE data. In: Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 2012 ; Vol. 321-322. pp. 74-80.
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Continuously accelerating ice loss over Amundsen Sea catchment, West Antarctica, revealed by integrating altimetry and GRACE data. / Lee, Hyongki; Shum, C. K.; Howat, Ian M.; Monaghan, Andrew; Ahn, Yushin; Duan, Jianbin; Guo, Jun Yi; Kuo, Chung-Yen; Wang, Lei.

In: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Vol. 321-322, 01.03.2012, p. 74-80.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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AU - Lee, Hyongki

AU - Shum, C. K.

AU - Howat, Ian M.

AU - Monaghan, Andrew

AU - Ahn, Yushin

AU - Duan, Jianbin

AU - Guo, Jun Yi

AU - Kuo, Chung-Yen

AU - Wang, Lei

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N2 - Satellite altimetry and Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) measurements have provided contemporary, but substantially different Antarctic ice sheet mass balance estimates. Altimetry provides no information about firn density while GRACE data is significantly impacted by poorly constrained glacial isostatic adjustment signals. Here, we combine Envisat radar altimetry and GRACE data over the Amundsen Sea (AS) sector, West Antarctica, to estimate the basin-wide averaged snow and firn column density over a seasonal time scale. Removing the firn variability signal from Envisat-observed ice-sheet elevation changes reveals more rapid dynamic thinning of underlying ice. We report that the net AS sector mass change rates are estimated to be -47±8Gtyr -1 between 2002 and 2006, and -80±4Gtyr -1 between2007 and 2009, equivalent to a sea level rise of 0.13 and 0.22mmyr -1, respectively. The acceleration is due to a combination of decreased snowfall accumulation (+13Gtyr -1 in 2002-2006, and -6Gtyr -1 in 2007-2009) and enhanced ice dynamic thinning (-60±10Gtyr -1 in 2002-2006, and -74±11Gtyr -1 in 2007-2009) after 2007. Because there is no significant snowfall trend over the past 21yr (1989-2009) and an increase in ice flow speed (2003-2010), the accelerated mass loss is likely to continue.

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