Recent Arctic warming has led to reduced sea-ice thickness and a more dynamic landfast ice cover with potential widespread consequences for ice users. Here, we develop an approach to assess the small-scale deformation of landfast ice critical to on-ice operations using synthetic aperture radar interferometry (InSAR). InSAR has previously proven successful in determining long-term qualitative climatology of ice deformation around on-ice operations, but is now used to explore its potential for providing quantitative guidance for ice road planning, construction, and maintenance. A validation effort using X-band SAR and high-precision GPS data over Elson Lagoon, Alaska, confirms the ability of InSAR to accurately estimate 3-dimensional sea ice strain values accumulated between SAR image acquisitions, using an inverse model. The inverse model was further applied to L-band InSAR data over the Northstar Island ice road near Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Assuming an elasto-brittle rheology, the derived strain values yielded a spatial distribution of internal stress consistent with preexisting ice defects and morphology. In several localized regions of the study area, stress values exceeded expected yield stress. Resulting relative fracture intensity potential was shown to conform with local knowledge based on road inspections by engineers, and may be used to guide ice road planning, construction and maintenance efforts. The results presented here demonstrate that InSAR is an accurate tool for estimating landfast ice deformation and stability in support of ice use. The findings may also provide substantial new insights into the mechanics of landfast ice.
Cold Regions Science and Technology – Elsevier
Published: May 1, 2018
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