Hybrid glacier Inventory, Gravimetry and Altimetry (HIGA) mass balance product for Greenland and the Canadian Arctic

William Colgan, Waleed Abdalati, Michele Citterio, Beata Csatho, Xavier Fettweis, Scott Luthcke, Geir Moholdt, Sebastian B. Simonsen, Manfred Stober

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


We present a novel inversion algorithm that generates a mass balance field that is simultaneously consistent with independent observations of glacier inventory derived from optical imagery, cryosphere-attributed mass trends derived from satellite gravimetry, and ice surface elevation trends derived from airborne and satellite altimetry. We use this algorithm to assess mass balance across Greenland and the Canadian Arctic over the Sep-2003 to Oct-2009 period at 26. km resolution. We evaluate local algorithm-inferred mass balance against forty in situ point observations. This evaluation yields an RMSE of 0.15. mWE/a, and highlights a paucity of in situ observations from regions of high dynamic mass loss and peripheral glaciers. We assess mass losses of 212 ± 67. Gt/a to the Greenland ice sheet proper, 38 ± 11. Gt/a to peripheral glaciers in Greenland, and 42 ± 11. Gt/a to glaciers in the Canadian Arctic. These magnitudes of mass loss are dependent on the gravimetry-derived spherical harmonic mass trend we invert. We spatially partition the transient glacier continuity equation by differencing algorithm-inferred mass balance from modeled surface mass balance, in order to solve the horizontal divergence of ice flux as a residual. This residual ice dynamic field infers flux divergence (or submergent flow) in the ice sheet accumulation area and at tidewater margins, and flux convergence (or emergent flow) in land-terminating ablation areas, which is consistent with continuum mechanics theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-39
Number of pages16
JournalRemote Sensing of Environment
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2015


  • Altimetry
  • Canada
  • Glacier
  • Gravimetry
  • Greenland
  • Ice sheet
  • Mass balance

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate


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