Antarctic ice shelf thickness from CryoSat-2 radar altimetry

S. J. Chuter*, J. L. Bamber

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)
491 Downloads (Pure)


Ice shelf thickness for the whole of Antarctica is derived from 4 years (2011-2014) of CryoSat-2 (CS2) radar altimetry measurements using the assumption that the shelves are in hydrostatic equilibrium. The satellite orbit and novel synthetic aperture radar interferometric mode of CS2 results in 92.3% data coverage over the ice shelves, with particular improvements around the grounding zone. When compared to ICESat data, surface elevations have a mean bias of less than 1 m and a fourfold reduction in standard deviation compared with the previous data set. Over the Amery Ice Shelf there is a mean thickness difference of 3.3% between radio echo sounding measurements and the CS2-derived thicknesses, rising to 4.7% within 10 km of the grounding line. Our new data set provides key improvements in accuracy and coverage, especially in the grounding zone, allowing for reduced uncertainties in mass budget calculations, subshelf ocean and ice sheet-shelf modeling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10721-10729
Number of pages9
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number24
Early online date10 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - 28 Dec 2015


  • Antarctica
  • CryoSat-2
  • cryosphere
  • ice shelves


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