Reconstructing surface elevation changes for the Greenland Ice Sheet (1993-2013) and analysis of Zachariæ Isstrøm, northeast Greenland
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Previous studies investigating the velocity and elevation change records of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) revealed rapid and complex changes. It is therefore imperative to determine changes with both high spatial and temporal resolutions. By fusing multiple laser altimetry data sets, the Surface Elevation Reconstruction and Change (SERAC) program is capable of reconstructing surface elevation changes with high spatial and temporal resolution over the entire GrIS. The input data include observations from NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) mission (2003-2009) as well as data collected by NASA’s Airborne Topographic Mapper (ATM) (1993-2013) and Land, Vegetation and Ice Sensor (LVIS) (2007-2012) airborne laser altimetry systems. This study extends the record of surface elevation changes over the GrIS by adding 2012 and 2013 laser altimetry data to the previous 1993-2011 record. Extending the record leads to a new, more accurate and detailed altimetry record for 1993-2013. Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) are fused with laser altimetry data over Zachariæ Isstrøm, northeast Greenland to analyze surface elevation changes and associated thinning rates during 1978-2014. Little to no elevation change occurred over Zachariæ Isstrøm from 1978-1999, however, from 1999-2014 elevation changes near the calving front became increasingly negative and accelerated. Calving front position showed steady retreat and grounding line position has been retreating towards the interior of the ice sheet at an increasing rate from 2010-2014 when compared to the 1996-2010 period. The measured elevation changes near the calving front have brought a large portion of the glacier close to the height of flotation. If the current thinning trend continues this portion of the glacier will reach flotation within the next 2-5 years allowing for further retreat and increased vulnerability to retreat for sections of the glacier further upstream.