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Remote Sens. 2014, 6(6), 5614-5632; doi:10.3390/rs6065614

Estimation of Mass Balance of the Grosser Aletschgletscher, Swiss Alps, from ICESat Laser Altimetry Data and Digital Elevation Models

1
Institute for Cartography, TU-Dresden, Helmholzstr. 10., 01062 Dresden, Germany
2
Institute of Geography, University of Tuebingen, Rümelinstr. 19–23, 72070 Tübingen, Germany
3
Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology, ETH Zurich, Wolfgang-Pauli-Str. 27, 8093 Zürich, Switzerland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 19 November 2013 / Revised: 30 May 2014 / Accepted: 30 May 2014 / Published: 17 June 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cryospheric Remote Sensing)
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Abstract

Traditional glaciological mass balance measurements of mountain glaciers are a demanding and cost intensive task. In this study, we combine data from the Ice Cloud and Elevation Satellite (ICESat) acquired between 2003 and 2009 with air and space borne Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) in order to derive surface elevation changes of the Grosser Aletschgletscher in the Swiss Alps. Three different areas of the glacier are covered by one nominal ICESat track, allowing us to investigate the performance of the approach under different conditions in terms of ICESat data coverage, and surface characteristics. In order to test the sensitivity of the derived trend in surface lowering, several variables were tested. Employing correction for perennial snow accumulation, footprint selection and adequate reference DEM, we estimated a mean mass balance of −0.92 ± 0.18 m w.e. a−1. for the whole glacier in the studied time period. The resulting mass balance was validated by a comparison with another geodetic approach based on the subtraction of two DEMs for the years 1999 and 2009. It appears that the processing parameters need to be selected depending on the amount of available ICESat measurements, quality of the elevation reference and character of the glacier surface. View Full-Text
Keywords: Grosser Aletschgletscher; ICESat; mass balance; surface lowering; DEM Grosser Aletschgletscher; ICESat; mass balance; surface lowering; DEM
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Kropáček, J.; Neckel, N.; Bauder, A. Estimation of Mass Balance of the Grosser Aletschgletscher, Swiss Alps, from ICESat Laser Altimetry Data and Digital Elevation Models. Remote Sens. 2014, 6, 5614-5632.

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