CryoSat Validation Mission Shows Blue Ice Region in Antarctica Rising
31.03.2012 - Atmosphere & Space, Ice & Snow, Antarctic
As part of its mission to validate the data ESA’s CryoSat satellite delivers, a team of scientists recently took some field measurements in the blue ice region in the Dronning Maud Land in East Antarctica. What the team found is that the elevation of this vast region close to the coast of Antarctica – which consists of polished blue ice devoid of snow – has been slowly increasing.
While the team’s measurements were conducted for validation purposes, two field campaigns conducted in 2008-2009 and 2010-2011 respectively indicate that the average height of the blue ice region increased 9 cm between the two survey periods. This is a surprising development, as the elevation of this region dropped by about 5 cm between 1991 and 2000, and the trend continued until 2008, according to ground surveys in the region.
Researchers said the results of the study are preliminary, however. They are interested to see if this region’s increase in elevation continues in future surveys.
Due to its lack of snow cover, the blue ice region is a very valuable region for testing the accuracy of CryoSat’s radar altimeter, as snow cover can influence the satellite’s measurements. A team from the Technical University of Dresden (TUD) took measurements on the ground while a team from the Alfred Wengener Institute (AWI) took measurements from an aircraft.