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Antarctic elevation change from satellite radar altimetry

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Poul Christoffersen.

It is 50 years since the first scientific observations of Antarctica were made from space. Since then, satellites have revolutionised our ability to monitor the Antarctic Ice Sheet on a continent-wide scale; detailing the diverse behaviour of a vast ice sheet. One of the longest continuous satellite records of Antarctica comes from the series of radar altimeters flown on-board the ERS -1, ERS -2 and Envisat satellites. For the past two decades, these instruments have documented changes in ice sheet elevation, and helped to improve our understanding of the mechanisms and time-scales of Antarctica’s evolution. Now, with the recent retirement of ERS -2 and the loss of Envisat, ESA ’s CryoSat-2 mission offers the potential to further extend this record.

This talk will provide an overview of this 20 year dataset; its value, its limitations and its contribution to recent estimates of ice sheet mass balance. I will then discuss current analysis of CryoSat-2 observations, focusing upon data acquired in it’s novel interferometric mode of operation. This instrument is the first of its kind to be flown on an Earth observation satellite, and presents both opportunities and challenges for mapping ongoing changes to the Antarctic Ice Sheet.

This talk is part of the Scott Polar Research Institute - Physical Sciences Seminar series.

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