Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-2652
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-2652
01 Dec 2023
 | 01 Dec 2023

Sentinel-1 Detection of Ice Slabs on the Greenland Ice Sheet

Riley Culberg, Roger J. Michaelides, and Julie Z. Miller

Abstract. Ice slabs are multi-meter thick layers of refrozen ice that limit meltwater storage in firn, leading to enhanced surface runoff and ice sheet mass loss. To date, ice slabs have largely been mapped using airborne ice-penetrating radar, which has limited spatial and temporal coverage. This makes it difficult to fully assess the current extent and continuity of ice slabs or to validate predictive models of ice slab evolution that are key to understanding their impact on Greenland’s surface mass balance. Here, for the first time, we map the extent of ice slabs and similar superimposed ice facies across the entire Greenland Ice Sheet at 500 m resolution using dual-polarization Sentinel-1 (S-1) synthetic aperture radar data collected in winter 2016–2017. The S-1 inferred ice slab extent is in excellent agreement with ice-penetrating radar ice slab detections from spring 2017, as well as the extent of the visible runoff zone as mapped from optical imagery. Our results show that ice slabs are nearly continuous around the entire margin of the ice sheet, including regions in Southwest Greenland where ice slabs have not been previously identified. The algorithm developed here also lays the groundwork for long-term monitoring of ice slab expansion with current and future C-band satellite systems and highlights the added value of future L-band missions for near-surface studies in Greenland.

Riley Culberg, Roger J. Michaelides, and Julie Z. Miller

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2652', Anonymous Referee #1, 17 Jan 2024
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Riley Culberg, 09 Feb 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2652', Anonymous Referee #2, 21 Jan 2024
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Riley Culberg, 09 Feb 2024
  • RC3: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2652', Anonymous Referee #3, 05 Feb 2024
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC3', Riley Culberg, 09 Feb 2024
      • RC4: 'Reply on AC3', Anonymous Referee #3, 12 Feb 2024
        • AC4: 'Reply on RC4', Riley Culberg, 27 Feb 2024
Riley Culberg, Roger J. Michaelides, and Julie Z. Miller
Riley Culberg, Roger J. Michaelides, and Julie Z. Miller

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Short summary
Ice slabs enhance meltwater runoff from the Greenland Ice Sheet. Therefore, it is important to understand their extent and how it changes with time. We present a method for mapping ice slabs and other refrozen ice using satellite radar imagery and apply this method to the whole ice sheet in winter 2016–2017. Our new map has significantly better spatial coverage and resolution than previous maps from airborne radar and lays the groundwork for long-term monitoring of ice slabs from space.