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Geosciences 2017, 7(3), 60; doi:10.3390/geosciences7030060

Glacier Snowline Determination from Terrestrial Laser Scanning Intensity Data

1
Institute of Geography, University of Innsbruck, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
2
Institute of Atmospheric and Cryospheric Sciences, University of Innsbruck, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
3
Department of Geography, University of Zurich, 8006 Zurich, Switzerland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Ulrich Kamp and Jesús Martínez Frías.
Received: 29 April 2017 / Revised: 28 June 2017 / Accepted: 10 July 2017 / Published: 17 July 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cryosphere)
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Abstract

Accurately identifying the extent of surface snow cover on glaciers is important for extrapolating end of year mass balance measurements, constraining the glacier surface radiative energy balance and evaluating model simulations of snow cover. Here, we use auxiliary information from Riegl VZ-6000 Terrestrial Laser Scanner (TLS) return signals to accurately map the snow cover over a glacier throughout an ablation season. Three classification systems were compared, and we find that supervised classification based on TLS signal intensity alone is outperformed by a rule-based classification employing intensity, surface roughness and an associated optical image, which achieves classification accuracy of 68–100%. The TLS intensity signal shows no meaningful relationship with surface or bulk snow density. Finally, we have also compared our Snow Line Altitude (SLA) derived from TLS with SLA derived from the model output, as well as one Landsat image. The results of the model output track the SLA from TLS well, however with a positive bias. In contrast, automatic Landsat-derived SLA slightly underestimates the SLA from TLS. To conclude, we demonstrate that the snow cover extent can be mapped successfully using TLS, although the snow mass remains elusive. View Full-Text
Keywords: terrestrial laser scanning; surface classification; snow line altitudes terrestrial laser scanning; surface classification; snow line altitudes
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Prantl, H.; Nicholson, L.; Sailer, R.; Hanzer, F.; Juen, I.F.; Rastner, P. Glacier Snowline Determination from Terrestrial Laser Scanning Intensity Data. Geosciences 2017, 7, 60.

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