Rapid large-area mapping of ice flow using Landsat 8

TitleRapid large-area mapping of ice flow using Landsat 8
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsFahnestock, M, Scambos, T, Moon, T, Gardner, A, Haran, T, Klinger, M
JournalRemote Sensing of Environment
KeywordsAntarctica, glaciers, Greenland, Ice flow, Landsat, Remote sensing

We report on the maturation of optical satellite-image-based ice velocity mapping over the ice sheets and large glacierized areas, enabled by the high radiometric resolution and internal geometric accuracy of Landsat 8's Operational Land Imager (OLI). Detailed large-area single-season mosaics and time-series maps of ice flow were created using data spanning June 2013 to June 2015. The 12-bit radiometric quantization and 15-m pixel scale resolution of OLI band 8 enable displacement tracking of subtle snow-drift patterns on ice sheet surfaces at $\sim$. 1. m precision. Ice sheet and snowfield snow-drift features persist for typically 16 to 64. days, and up to 432. days, depending primarily on snow accumulation rates. This results in spatially continuous mapping of ice flow, extending the mapping capability beyond crevassed areas. Our method uses image chip cross-correlation and sub-pixel peak-fitting in matching Landsat path/row pairs. High-pass filtering is applied to the imagery to enhance local surface texture. The current high image acquisition rates of Landsat 8 (725 scenes per day globally) reduces the impact of high cloudiness in polar and mountain terrain and allows rapid compilation of large areas, or dense temporal coverage of seasonal ice flow variations. The results rival the coverage and accuracy of interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) mapping.