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Collaborative Research: Detecting Glacier Calving Events from Ocean Waves and Underwater Acoustics


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Predictions of future sea level rise depend on accurate estimates of the rate at which ice sheets deliver fresh water and ice to the oceans. These estimates are provided by models, which, in turn, depend on our understanding of iceberg calving, among other processes. Due to a lack of observations, our ability to project rates of iceberg calving needs improvement. This project will provide an inexpensive means of detecting and, potentially, characterizing such events. The project will contribute to workforce development through provision of support for the training of a graduate student and a post-doctoral associate. It will enhance community resources by releasing the open source calving detection software, written in the R statistical language, on a variety of web sites. The principal investigators of this project will develop a method for detecting and characterizing glacier calving events by measuring the surface waves generated during the process. Development of the method will make use of data already collected in Sarqardleq fjord in West Greenland. Following the project both the data and the method will be made publicly available. In addition, they will characterize the noise generated by calving events using underwater acoustic data that was collected simultaneously with the wave data. The comparison of the acoustic and surface pressure data, in conjunction with high temporal resolution time-lapse imagery, will be used to improve understanding of the details of acoustic signatures of glacier calving.