Observing traveling waves in glaciers with remote sensing: New flexible time series methods and application to Sermeq Kujalleq (Jakobshavn Isbræ), Greenland

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. The published version of this Preprint is available: https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-15-407-2021. This is version 4 of this Preprint.


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Bryan Valmonte Riel , Brent Minchew , Ian Joughin


The recent influx of remote sensing data provides new opportunities for quantifying spatiotemporal variations in glacier surface velocity and elevation fields. Here, we introduce a flexible time series reconstruction and decomposition technique for forming continuous, time-dependent surface velocity and elevation fields from discontinuous data and partitioning these time series into short- and long-term variations. The time series reconstruction consists of a sparsity-regularized least squares regression for modeling time series as a linear combination of generic basis functions of multiple temporal scales, allowing us to capture complex variations in the data using simple functions. We apply this method to the multitemporal evolution of Sermeq Kujalleq (Jakobshavn Isbrae), Greenland. Using 555 ice velocity maps generated by the Greenland Ice Mapping Project and covering the period 2009 -- 2019, we show that the amplification in seasonal velocity variations in 2012 -- 2016 was coincident with a longer-term speedup initiating in 2012. Similarly, the reduction in post-2017 seasonal velocity variations was coincident with a longer-term slowdown initiating around 2017. To understand how these perturbations propagate through the glacier, we introduce an approach for quantifying the spatially varying and frequency-dependent phase velocities and attenuation length scales of the resulting traveling waves. We hypothesize that these traveling waves are predominantly kinematic waves based on their long periods, coincident changes in surface velocity and elevation, and connection with variations in the terminus position. This ability to quantify wave propagation enables an entirely new framework for studying glacier dynamics using remote sensing data.




Earth Sciences, Glaciology, Physical Sciences and Mathematics


remote sensing, glacier dynamics, time series analysis


Published: 2020-07-22 14:51

Last Updated: 2021-02-18 23:02

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CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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