Application of TOPEX Altimetry for Solid Earth Deformation Studies

Abstract

This study demonstrates the use of satellite radar altimetry to detect solid Earth deformation signals such as Glacial Isostatic Adjustment (GIA). Our study region covers moderately flat land surfaces seasonally covered by snow/ice/vegetation. The maximum solid Earth uplift of ~10 mm yr-1 is primarily due to the incomplete glacial isostatic rebound that occurs around Hudson Bay, North America. We use decadal (1992 - 2002) surface height measurements from TOPEX/POSEIDON radar altimetry to generate height changes time series for 12 selected locations in the study region. Due to the seasonally varying surface characteristics, we first perform radar waveform shape classification and have found that most of the waveforms are quasi-diffuse during winter/spring and specular during summer/fall. As a result, we used the NASA Β-retracker for the quasi-diffuse waveforms and the Offset Center of Gravity or the threshold retracker for the specular waveforms, to generate the surface height time series. The TOPEX height change time series exhibit coherent seasonal signals (higher amplitude during the winter and lower amplitude during the summer), and the estimated deformation rates agree qualitatively well with GPS vertical velocities, and with altimeter/tide gauge combined vertical velocities around the Great Lakes. The TOPEX observations also agree well with various GIA model predictions, especially with the ICE-5G (VM2) model with differences at 0.2 ± 1.4 mm yr-1, indicating that TOPEX has indeed observed solid Earth deformation signals manifested as crustal uplift over the former Laurentide Ice Sheet region.

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