A new Approach to Combine GRACE and ICESat Observations to Estimate Glacial Isostatic Adjustment in East Antarctic

Monday, 15 December 2014: 11:05 AM
Bianca Kallenberg1, Paul Tregoning2 and Anthony Purcell2, (1)Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia, (2)Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
Monitoring and understanding ongoing changes in Antarctic mass balance is of great interest, as the melting of the ice sheet would significantly contribute to global sea level changes. While scientists agree that the West Antarctic ice sheet is losing mass, opinions about the East Antarctic ice sheet are more widespread, with some areas showing an increase in mass. In recent years satellite missions have significantly contributed to the understanding of ongoing changes within the polar ice sheets, and became an important tool in detecting variations in ice height, ice mass and bedrock isostasy. The Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission detects mass loss in regions where the ice sheet has its bed well below sea level and where warmer ocean water penetrates beneath the ice sheet, melting it from the base. Meanwhile an increase in mass has been observed in regions along the East Antarctic coastline, raising the question whether GRACE detects glacial isostatic adjustment due to ice mass loss or an actual increase in snowfall, contributing positively to surface mass balance. To improve our understanding on the contribution of glacial isostatic adjustment and surface mass balance to mass variations, we developed a new approach on how to subtract elevation changes observed by satellite altimetry from observed mass changes as detected by GRACE. We have established our own firn compaction model that we apply to the altimetry data to subtract changes due to the densification of snow, before using the ICESat observations. We will present results of the firn compaction model and our approach on combining GRACE and ICESat observations to separate the contribution of glacial isostatic adjustment from ongoing surface mass changes in East Antarctica.