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Circum-arctic changes in the flow of glaciers and ice caps from satellite SAR data between the 1990s and 2017

By Tazio Strozzi, Frank Paul, Andreas Wiesmann, Thomas Schellenberger and Andreas Kääb

Abstract

We computed circum-Arctic surface velocity maps of glaciers and ice caps over the Canadian Arctic, Svalbard and the Russian Arctic for at least two times between the 1990s and 2017 using satellite SAR data. Our analyses are mainly performed with offset-tracking of ALOS-1 PALSAR-1 (2007–2011) and Sentinel-1 (2015–2017) data. In certain cases JERS-1 SAR (1994–1998), TerraSAR-X (2008–2012), Radarsat-2 (2009–2016) and ALOS-2 PALSAR-2 (2015–2016) data were used to fill-in spatial or temporal gaps. Validation of the latest Sentinel-1 results was accomplished by means of SAR data at higher spatial resolution (Radarsat-2 Wide Ultra Fine) and ground-based measurements. In general, we observe a deceleration of flow velocities for the major tidewater glaciers in the Canadian Arctic and an increase in frontal velocity along with a retreat of frontal positions over Svalbard and the Russian Arctic. However, all regions have strong accelerations for selected glaciers. The latter developments can be well traced based on the very high temporal sampling of Sentinel-1 acquisitions since 2015, revealing new insights in glacier dynamics. For example, surges on Spitsbergen (e.g., Negribreen, Nathorsbreen, Penckbreen and Strongbreen) have a different characteristic and timing than those over Eastern Austfonna and Edgeoya (e.g., Basin 3, Basin 2 and Stonebreen). Events similar to those ongoing on Eastern Austofonna were also observed over the Vavilov Ice Cap on Severnaya Zemlya and possibly Simony Glacier on Franz-Josef Land. Collectively, there seems to be a recently increasing number of glaciers with frontal destabilization over Eastern Svalbard and the Russian Arctic compared to the 1990s

Publisher: 'MDPI AG'
Year: 2017
DOI identifier: 10.3390/rs9090947
OAI identifier: oai:www.duo.uio.no:10852/62035
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