Monitoring Glacier change at the Academy of Sciences Icecap, Severnaya Zemlya, Russian High Arctic

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Garth Ornelas1, Michael J Willis2,3, Matthew E. Pritchard3 and Andrew K Melkonian3, (1)Southwestern University, Georgetown, TX, United States, (2)Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, United States, (3)Cornell University, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Ithaca, NY, United States
The 2200 km3 Academy of Sciences ice cap, located on Komsomolets Island in the Severnaya Zemlya Archipelago, is the largest ice cap by volume in the Russian High Arctic (Dowdeswell et al., 2002). We use remote sensing observations to examine velocity and elevation changes at its five major outlet glaciers over the past few decades.

We obtain glacier velocities by applying pixel-tracking (normalized amplitude cross-correlation) to orthorectified, high-resolution image pairs acquired by WorldView 1 and 2 with an ideal time separation of 1-3 months. We select imagery from the spring and summer periods where crevasses are clearly observed. We estimate uncertainties by examining apparent motion at bedrock outcrops adjacent to the glaciers, and use these off-ice offsets to correct for elevation-dependent errors. We compare our observations of velocities from high-resolution optical imagery between 2011 and 2014 with rates of motions measured in the 1990’s and 2000’s by Landsat, ASTER and SAR (Moholdt et al., 2012; Stewart, 2014) to determine if the velocities have changed.

Ice streams B, C, and D have maximum velocities of 2.8 m/day, 2.5 m/day and 2.3 m/day, respectively. Our velocities are similar to observations from 2009-2012 (Stewart, 2014), and higher than 1995 velocities (Moholdt et al.). We provide constraints on seasonal velocity variations at Ice Streams B, C and D.

Ice elevation change rates (determined using Worldview DEMs compared to a cartographically produced DEM) are consistent with those measured over the ICESat era between 2003 and 2009. In general the south and east of the ice cap is thinning, while the north and west is thickening. The main body of the land terminating Icestream A is continuing to slowly thicken, while thinning rates of more than 1-2 m/yr are occurring at the remaining marine terminating ice streams. Thinning extends to the highest altitude of the ice cap and crosses ice stream catchments boundaries.