A new approach to estimate ice dynamic rates using satellite observations in East Antarctica
Abstract. Mass balance changes of the Antarctic ice sheet are of significant interest due to its sensitivity to climatic changes and its contribution to changes in global sea level. While regional climate models successfully estimate mass input due to snowfall, it remains difficult to estimate the amount of mass loss due to ice dynamic processes. It has often been assumed that changes in ice dynamic rates only need to be considered when assessing long-term ice sheet mass balance; however, 2 decades of satellite altimetry observations reveal that the Antarctic ice sheet changes unexpectedly and much more dynamically than previously expected. Despite available estimates on ice dynamic rates obtained from radar altimetry, information about ice sheet changes due to changes in the ice dynamics are still limited, especially in East Antarctica. Without understanding ice dynamic rates, it is not possible to properly assess changes in ice sheet mass balance and surface elevation or to develop ice sheet models. In this study we investigate the possibility of estimating ice sheet changes due to ice dynamic rates by removing modelled rates of surface mass balance, firn compaction, and bedrock uplift from satellite altimetry and gravity observations. With similar rates of ice discharge acquired from two different satellite missions we show that it is possible to obtain an approximation of the rate of change due to ice dynamics by combining altimetry and gravity observations. Thus, surface elevation changes due to surface mass balance, firn compaction, and ice dynamic rates can be modelled and correlated with observed elevation changes from satellite altimetry.