Laurentia crustal motion observed using TOPEX/POSEIDON radar altimetry over land

Hyongki Lee, C. K. Shum, Yuchan Yi, Alexander Braun, Chung Yen Kuo

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57 Citations (Scopus)


A new method to estimate the vertical crustal motion from satellite altimetry over land was developed. The method was tested around Hudson Bay, where the observed vertical motion is largely caused by the incomplete glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) as a result of the Laurentide ice sheet deglaciation since the last glacial maximum (LGM). Decadal (1992-2003) TOPEX/POSEIDON radar altimetry data over land surfaces were used. The results presented here are improved compared to a previous study (Lee, H., Shum, C.K., Kuo, C.Y., Yi, Y., Braun, A., 2008. Application of TOPEX altimetry for solid Earth deformation studies. Terr. Atmos. Ocean. Sci. 19, 37-46. doi:10.3319/TAO.2008.19.1-2.37(SA).) which estimated vertical motion only over relatively flat land surfaces (standard deviation of the height variation <40 cm). In this study, we extended the concept of traditional 1-Hz (one-per-frame) radar altimeter ocean stackfiles to build 10-Hz (10-per-frame) land stackfiles over Hudson Bay land regions, and succeeded in obtaining vertical motion estimates over much rougher surfaces (standard deviation of the height variation <2 m). 90-m C-band Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) Digital Elevation Model (DEM) is used as a reference surface to select an optimal waveform retracker, to correct surface gradient errors, and to calculate land surface anomalies. Here, we developed an alternative retracker, called the modified threshold retracker, resulting in decadal vertical motion time series over a 1500 km by 1000 km region covering northern Ontario, northeastern Manitoba, and the Great Lakes region which is at the margin of the former Laurentide ice sheet. The average of the estimated uncertainties for the vertical motion is 2.9 mm/year which is comparable to 2.1 mm/year of recent GPS solutions. The estimated vertical motion is compared with other geodetic observations from GPS, tide gauge/altimetry, GRACE, and several GIA models. The data agree best with the laterally varying 3D GIA model, RF3S20 (β = 0.4) whereas the combination of land altimetry solution with other measurements match best with the models RF3S20 (β = 0.0) or RF3S20 (β = 0.2) in terms of mean and standard deviation of the differences. It is anticipated that this innovative technique could potentially be used to provide additional constraints for GIA model improvement, and be applied to other geodynamics studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-193
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Geodynamics
Issue number3-5
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Oct 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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