Ice rumples are locally-grounded features of flowing ice shelves, elevated tens of meters above the surrounding surface. These features may significantly impact the dynamics of ice-shelf grounding lines, which are strongly related to shelf stability. In this study, we used TanDEM-X data to construct high-resolution DEMs of the Thwaites ice shelf in West Antarctica from 2011 to 2013. We also generated surface deformation maps which allowed us to detect and monitor the elevation changes of an ice rumple that appeared sometime between the observations of a grounding line of the Thwaites glacier using Double-Differential Interferometric SAR (DDInSAR) in 1996 and 2011. The observed degradation of the ice rumple during 2011–2013 may be related to a loss of contact with the underlying bathymetry caused by the thinning of the ice shelf. We subsequently used a viscoelastic deformation model with a finite spherical pressure source to reproduce the surface expression of the ice rumple. Global optimization allowed us to fit the model to the observed deformation map, producing reasonable estimates of the ice thickness at the center of the pressure source. Our conclusion is that combining the use of multiple high-resolution DEMs and the simple viscoelastic deformation model is feasible for observing and understanding the transient nature of small ice rumples, with implications for monitoring ice shelf stability.
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