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WP 1.1: Ice-volume/mass changes

Workpackage leader:

SVALI PhD students: Johan Nilsson, Eyjólfur Magnússon


  • Quantify the current rate of change of ice-volume/mass of each glacier region to establish a baseline for future measurements and input to modelling future ice mass changes and dynamic response.
  • Obtain estimates of the present contribution to sea level change caused by the Arctic cryosphere.
The measurement of ice sheet and glacier changes from satellites and aircrafts provide a direct measurement of both volume and mass changes. The goal of this workpackage is to estimate the overall current mass loss and volume changes of the Arctic glaciers and ice caps, and the associated errors. The main satellite missions currently available for cryosphere monitoring are GRACE (mass change) and CryoSat/Envisat (volume changes), with new satellites such as GRACE-2, ICESat-2 and Sentinel-3 securing time series available beyond the 2015 time frame. The satellites will give overall estimates of mass loss and thus sea level rise, but major challenges remain to convert volume changes to mass, and to understand the response of the solid earth below the ice caps to the changing loads. Airborne laser measurements complement the satellite data in terms of resolution and coverage; to bridge the gap until the launch of ICESat-2, NASA is currently undertaking major ice mapping campaigns to supplement satellites, and also ESA and national programs complement the airborne LiDAR data collection. For the smaller ice caps and glaciers, additional data sources include besides commercial LiDAR data also historical information from maps and photographs.
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Last modified : Sep. 13, 2012
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