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Velocities of antarctic outlet glaciers determined from sequential Landsat images

December 31, 1989

Approximately 91.0 percent of the volume of present-day glacier ice on Earth is in Antarctica; Greenland contains about another 8.3 percent of the volume. Thus, together, these two great ice sheets account for an estimated 99.3 percent of the total. Long-term changes in the volume of glacier ice on our planet are the result of global climate change. Because of the relationship of global ice volume to sea level (± 330 cubic kilometers of glacier ice equals ± 1 millimeter sea level), changes in the mass balance of the antarctic ice sheet are of particular importance.

Whether the mass balance of the east and west antarctic ice sheets is positive or negative is not known. Estimates of mass input by total annual precipitation for the continent have been made from scattered meteorological observations (Swithinbank 1985). The magnitude of annual ablation of the ice sheet from calving of outlet glaciers and ice shelves is also not well known. Although the velocities of outlet glaciers can be determined from field measurements during the austral summer,the technique is costly, does not cover a complete annual cycle,and has been applied to just a few glaciers. To increase the number of outlet glaciers in Antarctica for which velocities have been determined and to provide additional data for under-standing the dynamics of the antarctic ice sheets and their response to global climate change, sequential Landsat image of several outlet glaciers were measured.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1989
Title Velocities of antarctic outlet glaciers determined from sequential Landsat images
Authors Thomas R. MacDonald, Jane G. Ferrigno, Richard S. Williams, Baerbel K. Lucchitta
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Antarctic Journal of the United States
Series Number
Index ID 70194849
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center