01 Feb 2023
 | 01 Feb 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Mass changes of the northern Antarctic Peninsula Ice Sheet derived from repeat bi-static SAR acquisitions for the period 2013–2017

Thorsten Christian Seehaus, Christian Sommer, Thomas Dethinne, and Philipp Malz

Abstract. Some of the highest specific mass change rates in Antarctica are reported for the Antarctic Peninsula. However, the existing estimates for the northern Antarctic Peninsula (< 70° S) are either spatially limited or are affected by considerable uncertainties. The complex topography, frequent cloud cover, limitations in ice thickness information, boundary effects, and uncertain glacial-isostatic adjustment estimates affect the ice sheet mass change estimates using altimetry, gravimetry, or the input-output method. Within this study, the first assessment of the geodetic mass balance throughout the ice sheet of the northern Antarctic Peninsula is carried out employing bi-static SAR data from the TanDEM-X satellite mission. Repeat coverages from austral-winters 2013 and 2017 are employed. An overall coverage of 96.4 % of the study area by surface elevation change measurements and a total mass budget of −24.1 ± 2.8 Gt/a is revealed. The spatial distribution of the surface elevation and mass changes points out, that the former ice shelf tributary glaciers of the Prince-Gustav-Channel, Larsen-A&B, and Wordie ice shelves are the hotpots of ice loss in the study area, and highlights the long-lasting dynamic glacier adjustments after the ice shelf break-up events. The highest mass change rate is revealed for the Airy-Seller-Fleming glacier system of −4.9 ± 0.6 Gt/a and the highest average surface elevation change rate of −2.30 ± 0.03 m/a is observed at Drygalski Glacier. The comparison of the ice mass budget with anomalies in the climatic mass balance indicates, that for wide parts of the southern section of the study area, the mass changes can be partly attributed to changes in the climatic mass balance. However, imbalanced high ice discharge drives the overall ice loss. The previously reported connection between mid-ocean warming along the southern section of the west coast and increased frontal glacier recession does not repeat in the pattern of the observed glacier mass losses, excluding Wordie Bay. The obtained results provide information on ice surface elevation and mass changes for the entire northern Antarctic Peninsula on unprecedented spatially detailed scales and high precision and will be beneficial for subsequent analysis and modeling.

Thorsten Christian Seehaus et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on tc-2022-251', ALINE BARBOSA SILVA, 17 Mar 2023
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Thorsten Seehaus, 30 Apr 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on tc-2022-251', Anonymous Referee #2, 19 Mar 2023
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Thorsten Seehaus, 30 Apr 2023

Thorsten Christian Seehaus et al.

Thorsten Christian Seehaus et al.


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Short summary
Existing mass budget estimates for the northern Antarctic Peninsula (> 70° S) are affected by considerable limitations. We carried out the first region-wide analysis of geodetic mass balances throughout this region (coverage of 96.4 %) for the period 2013–2014, based on repeat pass bi-static TanDEM-X acquisitions A total mass budget of −24.10 ± 2.80 Gt/a is revealed. Imbalanced high ice discharge, in particular at former ice shelf tributaries, is the main driver of overall ice loss.