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Observation of ocean tides below the Filchner and Ronne Ice Shelves, Antarctica, using synthetic aperture radar interferometry: Comparison with tide model predictions

  • Author(s): Rignot, E
  • Padman, L
  • MacAyeal, DR
  • Schmeltz, M
  • et al.
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License

Tides near and under floating glacial ice, such as ice shelves and glacier termini in fjords, can influence heat transport into the subice cavity, mixing of the under-ice water column, and the calving and subsequent drift of icebergs. Free-surface displacement patterns associated with ocean variability below glacial ice can be observed by differencing two synthetic aperture radar (SAR) interferograms, each of which represents the combination of the displacement patterns associated with the time-varying vertical motion and the time-independent lateral ice flow. We present the pattern of net free-surface displacement for the iceberg calving regions of the Ronne and Filchner Ice Shelves in the southern Weddell Sea. By comparing SAR-based displacement fields with ocean tidal models, the free-surface displacement variability for these regions is found to be dominated by ocean tides. The inverse barometer effect, i.e., the ocean's isostatic response to changing atmospheric pressure, also contributes to the observed vertical displacement. The principal value of using SAR interferometry in this manner lies in the very high lateral resolution (tens of meters) obtained over the large region covered by each SAR image. Small features that are not well resolved by tile typical grid spacing of ocean tidal models may contribute to such processes as iceberg calving and cross-frontal ventilation of the ocean cavity under the ice shelf. Copyright 2000 by the American Geophysical Union.

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