Data Set ID:

Ice Motion and Topography Near Margin Areas of Kamb Ice Stream, Antarctica, Version 1

This data set includes ice motion and topography measurements that were taken by measuring movement and altitude of poles set in the West Antarctic Ice Shelf. The data was acquired by Global Positioning System (GPS) measurements of poles. The position of the poles was measured twice; once in 2000, and again in 2002. Movement of the poles in that time show the ice motion velocity and direction.
GPS pole positions are given in latitude and longitude, and elevations are given in meters above the WGS1984 ellipsoid. The data are presented as tables in ASCII text files. Three maps of the area are included with the data tables.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) funded this work under grant number OPP-9909469.

NSIDC does not archive these data.

  • Glaciers/Ice Sheets > Glacier Elevation/Ice Sheet Elevation > GLACIER ELEVATION/ICE SHEET ELEVATION
  • Glaciers/Ice Sheets > Glacier Motion/Ice Sheet Motion > GLACIER MOTION/ICE SHEET MOTION
  • Glaciers/Ice Sheets > Glaciers > GLACIERS
  • Snow/Ice > Ice Extent > ICE EXTENT
  • Snow/Ice > Ice Motion > ICE MOTION
  • Glaciers/Ice Sheets > Ice Sheets > ICE SHEETS
Data Format(s):
  • JPEG
  • ASCII Text
Spatial Coverage:
N: -82.2, 
S: -83.5, 
E: -134.3, 
W: -158
Spatial Resolution:Not SpecifiedSensor(s):GPS, GPS RECEIVERS, RADAR, RADAR ECHO SOUNDERS
Temporal Coverage:
  • 11 November 2000 to 28 January 2002
Temporal ResolutionNot specifiedMetadata XML:View Metadata Record
Data Contributor(s):Ted Scambos, Ginny Catania, Howard Conway, Anthony Gades, Charles Raymond

Geographic Coverage

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Detailed Data Description

Most of the GPS pole locations are shown in the images in the "maps" directory. The poles were set in 2000 and their positions were measured again in 2002. The "positions" directory contains the measurements taken in both years. The "topography" directory contains the data regarding the altitude of the poles. Based on the position data from 2000 and 2002, the location and elevation change data are located in the "icemotion" directory. The images in the "maps" directory also illustrate these changes.


Data are in ASCII text files. Image files in JPG format are provided as additional material.

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File and Directory Structure

The data files are available via FTP at Directory structure consists of four subdirectories:

  • icemotion
  • maps
  • positions
  • topography
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File Naming Convention

The naming conventions for files are as follows:

Directory Naming Convention/Example
icemotion Files are named for the a, b, c, and d lines shown in the scartrek_map.jpg map. All file names contain the word "motion." Example: cline.motion.txt
maps There are three maps:
aandb.jpg - shows points along the A and B lines
bandc.jpg - shows points along the C and D lines
scartrek_map.jpg - shows a larger area encompassing all lines
positions File names consist of the measurement year (2000 or 2002), the location (line or area), the type of measurement (GPS or poles). Some files have two parts; for example: 2000aline1GPS.txt and 2000aline2GPS.txt.
topography All files are named for the lines (a, b, c, etc.). Names include the "topo" to designate them as topographic file. Some file names also include the range of pole names (AE1552HtoAE15N2H) the file covers. There are also topography files that include the word "zigzag." These indicate the topography profile in and around the poles and give a regional representation of the topography.
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File Size

Text files range from 1 to 262 KB. Image files range from 248 to 462 KB.

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Total volume of 37 text files is 1014 KB. Total volume of 3 image files is 1073 KB.

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Spatial Coverage

Spatial Resolution

Data were collected along four traverses near Antarctica's Kamb Ice Stream (formerly known as Ice Stream C). See the images in the "maps" directory for precise traverse locations.

Spatial Coverage Map:

Map showing bounding box of study area

The map is taken from AVHRR EASE-Grid 25-KM 5:4 scale data

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Temporal Coverage

Two measurements were taken for each location, one in 2000 and one in 2002.

Temporal Resolution:

Most measurements were taken twice; once during the 2000 field season (between 11 November and 7 December) and again during the 2002 field season (between 11 January and 28 January).

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Parameter or Variable

Parameter Description:

GPS location poles were set and measured in 2000. These poles were left in place and measured again in 2002 to gather data on ice movement and to gather kinematic profiles of topography elevations between poles. GPS measurements were taken for position, elevation, and pole top elevation. Height from snow surface to the top of the poles was taken manually.

Unit of Measurement:

Parameter Unit of Measurement
Latitude/Longitude Degrees
Elevation meters above WGS1984 ellipsoid
Distance from snow surface to top of pole meters

Parameter Source:

The following tables describe the columns of each type of table, and the parameter sensor, where applicable.


Column heading Description Sensor/Derivation
pole ID of the pole
lat Latitude Trimble SSE GPS receiver
long Longitude Trimble SSE GPS receiver
surfelev wgs1984 Surface elevation with respect to the WGS1984 ellipsoid Trimble SSE GPS receiver
speed m/yr Ice motion speed Calculated from the difference in location between 2000 and 2002 measurements
bearing deg Bearing degree Calculated from the difference in location between 2000 and 2002 measurements
errsp m/yr Error in speed (meters per year) The net error of 2000 and 2002 measurements
errbr deg Error in bearing degree The net error of 2000 and 2002 measurements
vertvel m/yr Apparent vertical displacement of the pole top (meters per year) Calculated from the difference in location between 2000 and 2002 measurements
errvert m/yr Estimated error of vertical motion (meters per year) The net error of 2000 and 2002 measurements


Column heading Description Sensor/Derivation
pole ID of the pole
lat 4-digit year Latitude Trimble SSE GPS receiver
long 4-digit year Longitude Trimble SSE GPS receiver
wgs1984 (pole top) Elevation in meters of the pole top in relation to the WGS1984 ellipsoid Trimble SSE GPS receiver
dxy Error in meters in the latitude-longitude plane
dz Error in meters for vertical measurement
pole ht (4-digit year) Pole height in meters above snow surface Manual measurement
file GPS file name
epochs Number of GPS epochs used to determine positions


Column heading Description Sensor/Derivation
lat (4-digit year) Latitude Trimble SSE GPS receiver
long (4-digit year) Longitude Trimble SSE GPS receiver
WGS1984 elevation Surface elevation in meters with respect to the WGS1984 ellipsoid Trimble SSE GPS receiver
distance Distance in meters along the survey track from the central pole

Sample Data Record:

The following is a sample from the icemotion data file "abline1.motion.txt."

pole lat long surfelev
AW5N2H -83.3453 -150.551 85.855 0.305 306.9 0.014 3.55 -0.051 0.057
AW5S2H -83.3841 -150.743 93.639 0.51 308.1 0.013 1.87 -0.071 0.052
AW5 -83.3647 -150.646 90.424 0.43 307.7 0.011 2.02 -0.105 0.043
AW3 -83.3742 -150.517 101.137 0.553 306.5 0.015 2.06 0.015 0.053
AW2 -83.3791 -150.451 105.948 0.601 305.5 0.013 1.64 -0.04 0.041
AW1 -83.3841 -150.385 110.629 0.659 306.6 0.013 1.49 -0.019 0.046
AZERO -83.3891 -150.318 116.573 0.793 309.9 0.028 2.68 0.001 0.046
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Software and Tools

View the files using a Web browser or other compatible program. No special software is needed.

Quality Assessment

Accuracy of the measurements varied. Most pole measurements were accurate to within 1 - 8 cm in horizontal, and 2 - 20 cm vertical. A few measurements had lower accuracy (>0.5 meter error) due to interference from field radar measurement or ionospheric disturbance. In these cases, the vector in the JPG images is indicated in yellow. Topography surveys were generally accurate (repeatable) to ~15 cm vertical.

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Data Acquisition and Processing

Theory of Measurements

Investigators used the following naming convention for labelling the ice motion poles:

  • Line name: A, B, C, or D
  • Direction from a central pole: N, E, S, or W (the central pole is labelled "ZERO")
  • Distance in kilometers from the reference pole along the reference line. ("H" indicates 0.5 kilometers)
  • Direction and distance of the offset (if applicable)

For topography-only surveys, the pole names consist of the line name and consecutive numbers. Some of these locations are not stationary, so the measurement was made from a snowmobile mount pole. These locations are labelled "RV" for rove.

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Data Acquisition Methods

GPS surveys were conducted in locations on the south side of Siple Dome and along Ridge B/C, which is now called the Englehardt Ice Ridge. An earlier field party set up the Siple Dome poles. These Siple dome poles were remeasured in 2000 and 2002.

In the Englehardt Ice Ridge, four regions (A, B, C, and D lines) were surveyed in 2000 and 2002 to determine ice motion at set poles and topography along pole traverses. Additional areas (BM, E, F, GL, L, M, and OH lines) were surveyed only once to determine precise topography.

Map of the entire study area. This image is a smaller version of "scartrek_map.jpg."

The three figures in the "maps" directory are derived from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data. All images were acquired on 7 December 2000. The image "aandb.jpg" is a close-up view of the A and B lines in the Englehardt Ice Ridge and the Kamb Ice Stream area. This image shows ice motion pole grids and some pole IDs. Vectors in yellow had reported errors. Topography in this image comes from GPS only.

The image "candd.jpg" is a close-up view of the C and D lines of the Englehardt Ice Ridge and the Kamb Ice Stream area. This image shows ice motion pole grids and some pole IDs. Vectors in yellow had reported errors. Topography in this image comes from a combination of GPS and photoclinometry.

The image "scartrek_map.jpg" shows the entire study area. This images was processed to highlight the subtle ice topography. Red lines indicate GPS data locations. The solid red lines show lines or small grids of ice motion measurements (with topography traverses). Dashed red lines indicate topography-only surveys. (Blue dots and numbers show water accumulation measurements for another project. Yellow dots indicate sites of interest, including automated weather stations (AWS) and long-term ice motion sites acquired by Sridhar Anandakrishnan.) See Ice Velocity Data from Ice Stream C, West Antarctica for more information.

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Derivation Techniques and Algorithms

Error Sources

Typical GPS errors include ionosphere refraction, cycle skip, multipath errors. Errors associated with pole and antenna setup (wobble) are estimated to be less than 1 cm.

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Sensor or Instrument Description

GPS data were acquired using Trimble SSE GPS receivers. All data were collected with L1/L2 antennas with a ground plane. Surveys for most pole traverses and topography profiles were conducted in a stop-and-go kinematic style (Hulbe and Whillans, 1993) using two base stations. Some individual poles were measured using a fast static approach. Base station GPS data sets of (usually) 1 hour or more were processed using the AutoGIPSY service at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). With precise coordinates from this service, GPSurvey was used to locate other poles and kinematic topography profiles.

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References and Related Publications

Contacts and Acknowledgments

T. Scambos, National Snow and Ice Data Center; G. Catania, H. Conway, A.M. Gades, and C.F. Raymond, Earth and Space Sciences, University of Washington.


Thanks to Maurice Conway, for his work as Field Safety Officer and assistance in gathering GPS data.

Document Information

Document Creation Date:

July 2003

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