With radar altimeters it is possible to measure Antarctic topography, which is a key to modeling ice sheet and ice shelf dynamics, both through studies of ice sheet slopes and of surface features related to ice flow [Robin, 1966; Brooks et al., 1984; Zwally et al., 1983]. Long-term monitoring will permit study of the response of the ice sheets and ice shelves to climate change. In this respect, the vast Ross and Ronne-Filchner ice shelves are of special importance since they are thought to play a critical role in buttressing the west Antarctic ice sheet [Bindschadler, 1990]. However, the behavior of smaller ice shelves lying further north is also of interest, since they may respond more rapidly to climate change [Doake and Vaughan,] 1991].
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