The large Juneau and Stikine icefields (Alaska) lost mass rapidly in the second part of the 20th century. Laser altimetry, gravimetry and field measurements suggest continuing mass loss in the early 21st century. However, two recent studies based on time series of Shuttle Radar Topographic Mission (SRTM) and Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) digital elevation models (DEMs) indicate a slowdown in mass loss after 2000. Here, the ASTER-based geodetic mass balances are recalculated carefully avoiding the use of the SRTM DEM because of the unknown penetration depth of the C-band radar signal. We find strongly negative mass balances from 2000 to 2016 (−0.68 ± 0.15 m w.e. a−1 for the Juneau Icefield and −0.83 ± 0.12 m w.e. a−1 for the Stikine Icefield), in agreement with laser altimetry, confirming that mass losses are continuing at unabated rates for both icefields. The SRTM DEM should be avoided or used very cautiously to estimate glacier volume change, especially in the North Hemisphere and over timescales of less than ∼ 20 years.
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Berthier, Etienne; Larsen, Christopher; Durkin, William J.; Willis, Michael J; and Pritchard, Matthew E., "Brief communication: Unabated wastage of the Juneau and Stikine icefields (southeast Alaska) in the early 21st century" (2018). Geological Sciences Faculty Contributions. 31.