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An observation-based approach to calculating ice-shelf calving mass flux


Evans, E and Fraser, AD and Cook, S and Coleman, R and Joughin, I, An observation-based approach to calculating ice-shelf calving mass flux, Remote Sensing of Environment, 272 Article 112918. ISSN 0034-4257 (2022) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.rse.2022.112918


In order to determine whether the calving flux of an ice shelf is changing, the long-term calving flux needs to be established. Methods used to estimate the calving flux either take into account non-steady-state behaviour by capturing movement of the calving-front location (e.g., using satellite observations), or they assume the calving front is stationary and that the ice is in steady state (e.g., flux-gate methods). Non-steady-state methods are hampered by the issue of temporal aliasing, i.e., when the satellite observation frequency is insufficient to capture the cyclic nature of the calving-front position. Methods that assume a steady state to estimate the calving flux accrue uncertainties if the ice shelf changes its physical state. In order to overcome these limitations we propose and implement a new observation-based approach that combines a time series of calving-front locations with a flux-gate method. The approach involves the creation of a unique semi-temporal domain as a mechanism to overcome the issue of temporal aliasing, and only requires easily accessible ice thickness and surface velocity estimates of the ice shelf. This approach allows for complex calving-front geometries and captures calving events of all sizes that are visible within the satellite imagery. Application of the approach allows the long-term average calving flux to be estimated (provided sufficient temporal coverage by satellite imagery), as well as identification of the minimum temporal baseline needed to produce a representative estimate of the long-term average calving flux, for any ice shelf. Implementation of the approach to multiple ice shelves would enable comparisons to be made regarding the spatial variability in the long-term calving flux of Antarctica's ice shelves, thereby highlighting calving regime change around the continent.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:remote sensing, glacier mass balance, glacier calving, Antarctic, Antarctica, ice shelves, calving flux, minimum temporal baseline
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Physical geography and environmental geoscience
Research Field:Glaciology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments
Objective Field:Antarctic and Southern Ocean ice dynamics
UTAS Author:Evans, E (Miss Eleri Evans)
UTAS Author:Fraser, AD (Dr Alex Fraser)
UTAS Author:Cook, S (Dr Sue Cook)
UTAS Author:Coleman, R (Professor Richard Coleman)
ID Code:148799
Year Published:2022
Deposited By:Australian Antarctic Program Partnership
Deposited On:2022-02-11
Last Modified:2022-10-13
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