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Identification and characterization of alpine subglacial lakes using interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR): Brady Glacier, Alaska, USA

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The temporary storage and subsequent release of water at glacial margins can cause severe flooding in downstream areas and substantially impact glacier dynamics. Alpine subglacial lakes may not be identified until they become subaerially exposed or release a jökulhlaup. We use interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) to identify and characterize three dynamic alpine subglacial lakes of Brady Glacier, Alaska, USA. We quantify changes in vertical displacement of the glacier surface and lake volumes from September 1995 through March 1996 using European Remote-sensing Satellite-1/-2 (ERS-1/-2) tandem data. In the autumn, subsidence ranged from 4 to 26 cm d−1 and the volume of water discharged ranged from 22 000±2000 to 243 000±14 000 m3d−1. Subsidence and discharge rates declined significantly during the winter and continued at a lesser rate through March. Application of this technique may allow researchers to locate alpine subglacial lakes years or decades before they begin to release hazardous outburst floods and substantially impact glacier dynamics.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2010

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  • 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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