Iceberg calving is an efficient mechanism for ice mass loss, and rapidly calving glaciers are often considered to be inherently unstable. However, the physical controls on calving are not well understood. Recent studies hypothesize that the presence of a rigid ice mélange (composed of icebergs, bergy bits, and sea ice) can reduce iceberg calving by providing “backstress” to the terminus. To test this hypothesis we use remote sensing techniques to construct a time series model of calving rate and size and composition of the adjacent icemélange.We describe a semi-automated routine for expediting the digitization process and illustrate the methods for Helheim Glacier, East Greenland, using 2008 data. Ice velocities of the glacier terminus and ice mélange are derived with feature-tracking software applied to radar imagery, which is successfully tracked year-round. Object-based image analysis (OBIA) is used to inventory icebergs and sea ice within the ice mélange. We find that the model successfully identifies the calving rate and ice mélange response trends associated with seasonal increases in terminus retreat and advance and shows seasonal trends of ice mélange potentially providing seasonal backstress on the glacier terminus.
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- Feature tracking
- Ice mélange
- Iceberg calving
- Object-based image analysis