New Paper: Remote sensing of sea surface glacial meltwater on the Antarctic Peninsula shelf

As the glaciers in Antarctica and especially along the West Antarctic Peninsula melt, it is important to understand where the meltwater is going, and how it will affect the oceanic ecosystem. In the latest issue of Frontiers in Marine Science, the PAL team describes how remote sensing data can be used to more easily to quantify glacial meltwater as it flows over the sea surface. For more, check out the full abstract and citation below.

Kudos to Jack, Michelle, Michael, Rick, Oscar and Alexander!

Glacial meltwater is an important environmental variable for ecosystem dynamics along the biologically productive Western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) shelf. This region is experiencing rapid change, including increasing glacial meltwater discharge associated with the melting of land ice. To better understand the WAP environment and aid ecosystem forecasting, additional methods are needed for monitoring and quantifying glacial meltwater for this remote, sparsely sampled location.

Prior studies showed that sea surface glacial meltwater (SSGM) has unique optical characteristics which may allow remote sensing detection via ocean color data. In this study, we develop a first-generation model for quantifying SSGM that can be applied to both spaceborne (MODIS-Aqua) and airborne (PRISM) ocean color platforms. In addition, the model was prepared and verified with one of the more comprehensive in-situ stable oxygen isotope datasets compiled for the WAP region. The SSGM model appears robust and provides accurate predictions of the fractional contribution of glacial meltwater to seawater when compared with insitu data (r = 0.82, median absolute percent difference = 6.38%, median bias =−0.04), thus offering an additional novel method for quantifying and studying glacial meltwater in the WAP region.

Pan BJ, Gierach MM, Meredith MP, Reynolds RA, Schofield O and Orona AJ (2023). Remote sensing of sea surface glacial meltwater on the Antarctic Peninsula shelf. Front. Mar. Sci. 10:1209159.