DFG-Priority Programme 1158 Antarctic Research
Funding period: 2009-2014 (completed)
This project aims to gain understanding of ongoing and potential changes of Wilkins and GeorgeVI ice shelves on the south-western Antarctic Peninsula. Both are located in an area of the supposed climatic limit of viability of ice shelves and have already shown considerable ice front retreat. The break-up events in 2008 and 2009 on Wilkins Ice Shelf exemplified their potential of disintegration.
Within a multi-institutional, interdisciplinary approach including remote sensing (FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg), modeling of the ice dynamics (Alfred-Wegener-Institut) and fracture mechanics (TU Kaiserslautern), we aim to improve the understanding of the impacts of temperature increase on ice shelf stability.
The remote sensing component includes the mapping of surface structures and fracture development over time, as well as the derivation of surface velocity fields by SAR interferometry and feature tracking for the Wilkins Ice Shelf, which are required as input datasets for modeling of fracture and ice dynamics. For this purpose, we use multi-temporal optical and SAR imagery (Alos Palsar, TerraSAR-X, ERS, ENVISAT). Further work tasks include the investigation of ice thickness changes based on altimetry data and the mapping of the grounding line using Differential SAR Interferometry. The observed quantities are interpreted in the context of ice dynamics and fracture mechanics.