Stenoien, M.D. and Bentley, C.R. 2000. Pine Island Glacier, Antarctica: A study of the catchment using interferometric synthetic aperture radar measurements and radar altimetry. Journal of Geophysical Research 105: 21,761-21,779.
What was done
The catchment region of Pine Island Glacier, Antarctica was mapped using radar altimetry and synthetic aperture radar interferometry. These data were then used to develop a velocity map that revealed a system of tributaries that channel ice from the catchment area into the fast-flowing glacier. By combining the velocity data with information on ice thickness and snow accumulation rates, the authors were able to calculate an approximate mass balance for the glacier.
What was learned
Within an uncertainty of approximately 30%, it was determined that the mass balance of the catchment region is not significantly different from zero.
What it means
The authors note that "the section of Antarctica drained by Pine Island Glacier and the fast flowing glacier itself have been the subject of much speculation and discussion, but they have received relatively little quantitative examination." The present work does much to alleviate this deficiency and suggests there is no reason for undue concern about the stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.