Changes in the area and volume of the polar ice sheets are intricately linked to changes in global climate, and the resulting changes in sea level may severely impact the densely populated coastal regions on Earth. Loss of the West Antarctic part of the Antarctic ice sheet alone could cause a sea-level rise of approximately 6 m. The potential sea-level rise after melting of the entire Antarctic ice sheet is estimated to be 65 m to 73 m. In spite of its importance, the mass balance (the net volumetric gain or loss) of the Antarctic ice sheet is poorly known; it is not known whether the ice sheet is growing or shrinking. As a result, measurement of changes in the Antarctic ice sheet was given a very high priority in recommendations by the Polar Research Board of the National Research Council (1986), by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) (1989), and by the National Science Foundation's (1990) Division of Polar Programs. An archive of early 1970's Landsat 1, 2, and 3 Multispectral Scanner (MSS) images of Antarctica and the fact that the repeat coverage with satellite images provided an excellent means of documenting changes in the coastline of Antarctica provided the impetus for carrying out a comprehensive analysis of the glaciological features of the coastal regions and changes in ice fronts of Antarctica. The project was later modified to include Landsat 4 and 5 MSS and Thematic Mapper (TM) and RADARSAT images to compare changes over a 20- to 25- year time interval and to prepare a series of 24 1:1,000,000-scale and 1 1:5,000,000-scale U.S. Geological Survey Geologic Investigations Series Maps ('I-Maps') (Williams and others, 1995; Williams and Ferrigno, 1998; and Ferrigno and others, 2002) in both paper and digital format.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Coastal-change and glaciological map of the Bakutis Coast, Antarctica: 1972-2002