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SSF-Svalbard Science Forum

Terrestrial radar interferometry for monitoring tidewater glaciers in Ny-Ålesund and Hornsund

Tildelt: kr 0,40 mill.

Tidewater glaciers terminate directly into the sea, and comprise a significant percentage of glaciers in the High Arctic. Ice is typically lost at the tidewater glacier front both through melting, and by "calving" as various size blocks shear off at the front. Calving involves the interactions of several glaciological processes, each of which presents considerable research challenges. Calving observations are sparse, and there are very few datasets upon which to base a calving theory. Our understanding of calving and of ice-ocean interactions, in particular at tidewater glacier fronts, remains elusive. Global warming has led to increases in surface melt and calving rates, while accumulation increases have been insufficient to offset the increased loss. As a result, most tidewater glaciers in the world are retreating. With further warming in the Arctic, we can expect continuing retreat of Svalbard glaciers, and resultant declines in the total length of calving fronts around Svalbard. The main objective of this project is to explore and utilize a new terrestrial radar remote sensing technology to monitor calving processes of two tidewater glaciers at two different research bases in Svalbard, Ny-Ålesund and Hornsund. The radar interferometer allows to remotely collect image data providing detailed deformation mapping with mm-level precision, all without having any personnel on the glacier, minimizing the environmental footprint. A strong multidisciplinary team participates, new cooperation will be established, and ongoing cooperation will be strengthened. This project contributes to SSF's strategic objectives by exploring new technology in order to reduce environmental impact of glacier research, strengthening the Ny-Ålesund flagship glaciology programme, utilizing effectively the infrastructure in Ny-Ålesund and Hornsund, and it suggests further development of observation systems for SIOS.


SSF-Svalbard Science Forum