Research Images As Art 2014/15 Gallery

The Antarctic diamond ring

Entry No 4.jpg 
Mr Tom Armitage, Earth Sciences

To estimate how much the Antarctic ice sheet is contributing to sea level rise, we use satellite radar measurements to determine elevation changes of the ice sheet surface and hence changes in ice sheet mass. The image seen here is a result of looking at the difference in the ice sheet elevation (left) and the radar backscatter (right) between ascending (south to north) and descending (north to south) satellite orbits. The interaction between the radar waves and wind-driven features of the ice sheet surface produce this striking pattern in the measurements - a diamond ring around the south pole. The Antarctic continent has some of the most powerful and persistent winds on the planet that carve dramatic undulating features into the ice sheet surface, and which show up here in our satellite measurements.


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