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Annals of Glaciology

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Ice sheets -- Mathematical models, Glaciology -- Polar regions, Ice -- Remote sensing


Ice-thickness changes at remote locations on ice sheets can be determined by means of precise Global Positioning System (GPS) surveys with interferometric solutions. Remote sites are precisely surveyed relative to GPS receivers on rock. Repeat observations of the position of a remote site provide its vertical velocity. The difference between this velocity and accumulation rate is an indicator of change in ice-sheet thickness. Allowance must be made for the movement of survey markers due to firn compaction and down-slope ice motion, To allow for firn compaction, very long- poles arc placed to a sufficient depth in the firn that the densification rate can be considered steady. This assumption may be tested by measurements with poles set to different depths. An analysis of errors in pilot studies indicates that the limit to precision is the determination of accumulation rate.


Originally appeared in the Annals of Glaciology, published by the International Glaciological Society. Article can be found at



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