Ice flow dynamics of the Greenland Ice Sheet from SAR interferometry



Synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) interferograms produced from ESA's ERS-1 satellite, provide the first synoptic view of ice flow dynamics of the western sector of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Glacial motion is detected in the radar ranging direction at millimetric scales, across a complete sequence of snow accumulation and melting regimes, despite significant variations in their radar scattering properties. Ice flow evolves from a slow, regular motion at the higher elevations. At lower elevations, motion is strongly convoluted by meter-scale undulations in surface topography, which have a unique interferometric signature that enables a novel approach for retrieving flow direction. Inferred flow directions, combined with surface displacements in the radar ranging direction, yield ice velocity estimates that are within 6% of in-situ measurements gathered along a 40 km survey line. Application of repeat-pass SAR interferometry to the entire Greenland Ice Sheet should enable precise mapping of its ice flow dynamics at an unprecedented level of spatial detail.