Investigation of coastal dynamics of the Antarctic Ice Sheet using sequential Radarsat SAR images
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Increasing human activities have brought about a global warming trend, and cause global sea level rise. Investigations of variations in coastal margins of Antarctica and in the glacial dynamics of the Antarctic Ice Sheet provide useful diagnostic information for understanding and predicting sea level changes. This research investigates the coastal dynamics of the Antarctic Ice Sheet in terms of changes in the coastal margin and ice flow velocities. The primary methods used in this research include image segmentation based coastline extraction and image matching based velocity derivation. The image segmentation based coastline extraction method uses a modified adaptive thresholding algorithm to derive a high-resolution, complete coastline of Antarctica from 2000 orthorectified SAR images at the continental scale. This new coastline is compared with the 1997 coastline also derived from orthorectified Radarsat SAR images, and the 1963 coastline derived from Argon Declassified Intelligence Satellite Photographs for change detection analysis of the ice margins. The analysis results indicate, in the past four decades, the Antarctic ice sheet experienced net retreat and its areal extent has been reduced significantly. Especially, the ice shelves and glaciers on the Antarctic Peninsula reveal a sustained retreating trend. In addition, the advance, retreat, and net change rates have been measured and inventoried for 200 ice shelves and glaciers. A multi-scale image matching algorithm is developed to track ice motion and to measure ice velocity for a number of sectors of the Antarctic coast based on 1997 and 2000 SAR image pairs. The results demonstrate that a multi-scale image matching algorithm is much more efficient and accurate compared with the conventional algorithm. The velocity measurements from the image matching method have been compared with those derived from InSAR techniques and those observed from conventional ground surveys during 1970-1971. The comparison reveals that the ice velocity in the front part of the Amery Ice Shelf has increased by about 50-200 m/a. The rates of ice calving and temporal variation of ice flow pattern have been also analyzed by integrating the ice margin change measurement with the ice flow velocity at the terminus of the outlet glacier.
Tang, Sheng-Jung (2007). Investigation of coastal dynamics of the Antarctic Ice Sheet using sequential Radarsat SAR images. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from