IPY: Collaborative Proposal: Constraining the Mass-Balance Deficit of the Amundsen Coast's Glaciers
This award supports a project to gather data to better understand the mass balance of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, in the Pine Island and Thwaites region, through the combination of radar altimetry and surface-based ice-core measurements of accumulation. The intellectual merit of the project is that the results of the field work will provide information on decadal-scale average accumulation extending back through the last century and will help constrain a modeling effort to determine how coastal changes propagate inland, to allow better prediction of future change. Comparison of the basin averaged accumulation with ice discharge determined using Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) velocity data will provide improved mass-balance estimates. Study of changes in flow speed will produce a record of mass balance over the last three decades. Analysis of the satellite altimeter record in conjunction with annual accumulation estimates also will provide estimates of changes and variability in mass balance. The broader impacts of the work are that it will make a significant contribution to future IPCC estimates of sea level, which are important for projection of the impacts of increased sea level on coastal communities. The research will contribute to the graduate education of students at the Universities of Washington and Kansas and will enrich K-12 education through the direct participation of the PIs in classroom activities. Informal science education includes 4-day glacier flow demonstrations at the Polar Science Weekend held annually at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle. The project also will communicate results through Center for the Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS) outreach effort. All field and remotely-sensed data sets will be archived and distributed by the National Snow and Ice Data Center. This project is relevant to IPY in that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is losing mass, in large part because of rapid thinning of the Amundsen Coast glaciers so, it will directly address the NSF IPY emphasis on "ice sheet history and dynamics." The project is also international in scope.
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