Satellite-based estimates of Antarctic surface meltwater fluxes



[1] This study generates novel satellite-derived estimates of Antarctic-wide annual (1999–2009) surface meltwater production using an empirical relationship between radar backscatter from the QuikSCAT (QSCAT) satellite and melt calculated from in situ energy balance observations. The resulting QSCAT-derived melt fluxes significantly agree with output from the regional climate model RACMO2.1 and with independent ground-based observations. The high-resolution (4.45 km) QSCAT-based melt fluxes uniquely detect interannually persistent and intense melt (>400 mm water equivalent (w.e.) year−1) on interior Larsen C Ice Shelf that is not simulated by RACMO2.1. This supports a growing understanding of the importance of a föhn effect in this region and quantifies the resulting locally enhanced melting that is spatially consistent with recently observed Larsen C thinning. These new results highlight important cryosphere-climate interactions and processes that are presently not fully captured by the coarser-resolution (27 km) regional climate model.