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Geostatistical analysis of glacier-roughness data

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In most glaciological and hydrological models, surface roughness of snow and ice is an important parameter. However, roughness is generally used only as an estimated parameter for lack of available observations. In this paper, we present a method to collect and analyze ice-surface-roughness data using a specially designed instrument for survey and geostatistical methods for analysis. The glacier-roughness sensor (GRS), built at the University of Trier, records variations in microtopography at 0.2 m × 0.1m resolution when pulled across an ice surface. Global positioning system data are used for location. After several processing steps, the data are analyzed using geostatistical methods. The mathematical tool used to achieve a morphological characterization of ice-surface types is the variogram. GRS data, variograms and surface roughness analysis are ideal matches for morphological characterization, because none of them requires or provides absolute elevation values. Morphology is described not by absolute elevation values, but by the change of elevation in space, which is the derivative of elevation (surface-roughness values). The variogram is calculated from incremental values. Parameters extracted from variograms of GRS data serve to distinguish lake surfaces, wind structures, ridge-and-valley systems, melting structures and blue-ice areas. Examples are from Jakobshavn Isbræ drainage basin, West Greenland.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2000

More about this publication?
  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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