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Comparison of annual changes in winter ERS-1 SAR images and glacier mass balance of Slakbreen, Svalbard

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The Arctic glaciers are sensitive to climate change, and glacier mass balance is used as an indicator of climate change. However, few mass balance observations are available from the Arctic region. Winter ERS-1 SAR images of the Arctic glacier Slakbreen (78degreesN, 16degrees 30'E) on Svalbard were analysed to investigate a possible relation between SAR backscatter and temporal variations in glacier mass balance. A winter ERS-1 SAR image acquired in 1993 after a summer with large ablation was compared with a winter ERS-1 SAR image acquired after the following summer with low ablation. Changes in mass balance from one year to another were difficult to detect using SAR backscatter data only. Comparison of ground-penetrating radar and SAR data showed that the SAR data contain a signal of the near-surface glacier properties. SAR data were interpreted to reflect variations in accumulation and ablation integrated over several years.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 20, 1999

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