Glacier mass-balance determination by remote sensing and high-resolution modelling

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Abstract:

An indirect methodology for determining the distribution of mass balance at high spatial resolution using remote sensing and ice-flow modelling is presented. The method, based on the mass-continuity equation, requires two datasets collected over the desired monitoring interval: (i) the spatial pattern of glacier surface-elevation change, and (ii) the mass-flux divergence field. At Haut Glacier d'Arolla, Valais, Switzerland, the mass-balance distribution between September 1992 and September 1993 is calculated at 20 m resolution from the difference between the pattern of surface-elevation change derived from analytical photogrammetry and the mass-flux divergence field determined from three-dimensional, numerical flow modelling constrained by surface-velocity measurements. The resultant pattern of mass balance is almost totally negative, showing a strong dependence on elevation, but with large localized departures. The computed distribution of mass balance compares well (R2 =0.91) with mass-balance measurements made at stakes installed along the glacier centre line over the same period. Despite the highly optimized nature of the flow-modelling effort employed in this study, the good agreement indicates the potential this method has as a strategy for deriving high spatial and temporal-resolution estimates of mass balance.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3189/172756500781833016

Publication date: June 1, 2000

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.
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