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Special Issue "Remote Sensing of Glaciers"

A special issue of Remote Sensing (ISSN 2072-4292).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 March 2017

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Frank Paul

Glaciology and Geomorphodynamics Group, Physical Geography Division, Department of Geography, University of Zurich, CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland
Website | E-Mail
Interests: glacier mapping and monitoring from optical sensors; glacier response to climate change; geomorphometric DEM analysis; distributed mass balance modelling
Guest Editor
Dr. Kate Briggs

Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM), School of Earth and Enviroment, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
Website | E-Mail
Interests: geodetic mass balance observations; altimetry, CryoSat-2; SAR velocity mapping
Guest Editor
Dr. Robert McNabb

Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1047, Blindern, 0316 Oslo, Norway
Website | E-Mail
Interests: optical velocity mapping; glacier response and behavior; landsat
Guest Editor
Dr. Christopher Nuth

Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1047, Blindern, 0316 Oslo, Norway
Website | E-Mail
Interests: geodetic mass balance; digital elevation model; glacier behavior and response; SFM
Guest Editor
Dr. Jan Wuite

ENVEO—Environmental Earth Observation IT, Technikerstraße 21a, A-6020, Innsbruck, Austria
Website | E-Mail
Interests: SAR ice velocity mapping glaciology; ice dynamics; satellite altimetry; mass balance studies

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Studying glaciers from a wide range of remote sensing platforms and techniques has become an expanding field over the past decade. Key reasons for this are the now free availability of raw data (e.g. opening of the Landsat archive), the wide recognition of glaciers as indicators of climate change, and the strong impact of their changes on society at global (sea-level rise), to regional (run-off, hydro-power) and local (hazards) scales. In addition, the remoteness of glaciers, and difficulty to gain access to most of them for direct measurements, means that remote sensing data often provides the only viable means for studying them. Satellite data also measure parameters that are hard to obtain in the field and they complement ground-based observations in space and time. Hence, remote sensing of glaciers and their changes plays a fundamental role for our understanding of their characteristics, dynamics, future evolution and response to climate change.

Using optical and microwave imaging as well as altimetry sensors (such as Landsat, ASTER, Sentinel 1/2/3, SRTM, ALOS PALSAR, TerraSAR-X, ICESat, CryoSat 2), a wide range of glacier observations can be performed. Among the most common are mapping of glacier extents, and determination of elevation and volume changes, surface flow velocity, and snow lines. Several of them can be generated from the archived datasets over time periods of several decades, thus providing a robust means for change assessment and trend analysis. On the other hand, the ever-growing fleet of new satellites and sensors provide new possibilities for information extraction and accuracy improvement, but also require adaptation of existing algorithms to the new and advanced capabilities of the more recent sensors.

The Special Issue ‘Remote Sensing of Glaciers’ should provide a current overview on state-of-the-art methods for data retrieval from the diversity of sensors, as well as the latest applications of established methods to obtain new and quantitative information on glacier dynamics and changes over large regions. We focus on glaciers (and exclude the ice sheets of Greenland/Antarctica and their outlet glaciers and ice streams) to fully consider the specific challenges associated with remote sensing in steep, high-mountain topography. Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Glacier and snow facies mapping and their changes through time
  • Derivation of glacier elevation and volume changes from DEMs and/or altimetry
  • Glacier surface velocities over large spatial regions and/or their trends over time
  • Fusion of sensors and methods to determine glaciological phenomena (e.g. debris cover)
  • Exploitation of new sensors (Sentinel 1A/1B and 2A, Landsat 8, PALSAR2, ...)
  • Novel methods for the generation of glacier extents, facies, elevation/elevation changes or velocity/velocity changes
  • Cross-comparison and integration of datasets derived from different sensors and platforms

Dr. Frank Paul
Dr. Kate Briggs
Dr. Robert McNabb
Dr. Christopher Nuth
Dr. Jan Wuite
Guest Editors

Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Remote Sensing is an international peer-reviewed Open Access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs).

Keywords

  • Glacier extent and snow facies mapping
  • Glacier elevation and volume changes
  • Glacier flow velocities
  • Glacier changes and trend analysis
  • Combination and integration of methods and sensors
  • Optical and microwave imaging
  • Altimetry and DEM differencing
  • Sentinels

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Elevation Change and Improved Velocity Retrieval Using Orthorectified Optical Satellite Data from Different Orbits
Remote Sens. 2017, 9(3), 300; doi:10.3390/rs9030300
Received: 21 January 2017 / Revised: 15 March 2017 / Accepted: 17 March 2017 / Published: 22 March 2017
PDF Full-text (22860 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Optical satellite products are available at different processing levels. Of these products, terrain corrected (i.e., orthorectified) products are the ones mostly used for glacier displacement estimation. For terrain correction, a digital elevation model (DEM) is used that typically stems from various data sources
[...] Read more.
Optical satellite products are available at different processing levels. Of these products, terrain corrected (i.e., orthorectified) products are the ones mostly used for glacier displacement estimation. For terrain correction, a digital elevation model (DEM) is used that typically stems from various data sources with variable qualities, from dispersed time instances, or with different spatial resolutions. Consequently, terrain representation used for orthorectifying satellite images is often in disagreement with reality at image acquisition. Normally, the lateral orthoprojection offsets resulting from vertical DEM errors are taken into account in the geolocation error budget of the corrected images, or may even be neglected. The largest offsets of this type are often found over glaciers, as these may show strong elevation changes over time and thus large elevation errors in the reference DEM with respect to image acquisition. The detection and correction of such orthorectification offsets is further complicated by ice flow which adds a second offset component to the displacement vectors between orthorectified data. Vice versa, measurement of glacier flow is complicated by the inherent superposition of ice movement vectors and orthorectification offset vectors. In this study, we try to estimate these orthorectification offsets in the presence of terrain movement and translate them to elevation biases in the reference surface. We demonstrate our method using three different sites which include very dynamic glaciers. For the Oriental Glacier, an outlet of the Southern Patagonian icefield, Landsat 7 and 8 data from different orbits enabled the identification of trends related to elevation change. For the Aletsch Glacier, Swiss Alps, we assess the terrain offsets of both Landsat 8 and Sentinel-2A: a superior DEM appears to be used for Landsat in comparison to Sentinel-2, however a systematic bias is observed in the snow covered areas. Lastly, we demonstrate our methodology in a pipeline structure; displacement estimates for the Helheim-glacier, in Greenland, are mapped and corrected for orthorectification offsets between data from different orbits, which enables a twice as dense a temporal resolution of velocity data, as compared to the standard method of measuring velocities from repeat-orbit data only. In addition, we introduce and implement a novel matching method which uses image triplets. By formulating the three image displacements as a convolution, a geometric constraint can be exploited. Such a constraint enhances the reliability of the displacement estimations. Furthermore the implementation is simple and computationally swift. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Glaciers)
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Open AccessArticle Glacier Mass Loss during the 1960s and 1970s in the Ak-Shirak Range (Kyrgyzstan) from Multiple Stereoscopic Corona and Hexagon Imagery
Remote Sens. 2017, 9(3), 275; doi:10.3390/rs9030275
Received: 2 December 2016 / Revised: 7 March 2017 / Accepted: 12 March 2017 / Published: 16 March 2017
PDF Full-text (13131 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Comprehensive research on glacier changes in the Tian Shan is available for the current decade; however, there is limited information about glacier investigations of previous decades and especially before the mid 1970s. The earliest stereo images from the Corona missions were acquired in
[...] Read more.
Comprehensive research on glacier changes in the Tian Shan is available for the current decade; however, there is limited information about glacier investigations of previous decades and especially before the mid 1970s. The earliest stereo images from the Corona missions were acquired in the 1960s but existing studies dealing with these images focus on single glaciers or small areas only. We developed a workflow to generate digital terrain models (DTMs) and orthophotos from 1964 Corona KH-4 for an entire mountain range (Ak-Shirak) located in the Central Tian Shan. From these DTMs and orthoimages, we calculated geodetic mass balances and length changes in comparison to 1973 and 1980 Hexagon KH-9 data. We found mass budgets between −0.4 ± 0.1 m·w.e.a−1 (1964–1980) and −0.9 ± 0.4 m·w.e.a−1 (1973–1980) for the whole region and individual glaciers. The length changes, on the other hand, vary heterogeneously between +624 ± 18 m (+39.0 ± 1.1 m·a−1) and −923 ± 18 m (−57.7 ± 1.1 m·a−1) for 1964–1980. An automation of the processing line can successively lead to region-wide Corona data processing allowing the analysis and interpretation of glacier changes on a larger scale and supporting a refinement of glacier modelling. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Glaciers)
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Open AccessArticle Reflectance–Elevation Relationships and Their Seasonal Patterns over Twelve Glaciers in Western China Based on Landsat 8 Data
Remote Sens. 2017, 9(3), 187; doi:10.3390/rs9030187
Received: 15 December 2016 / Revised: 13 February 2017 / Accepted: 20 February 2017 / Published: 23 February 2017
PDF Full-text (10767 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Albedo/reflectance is of great importance for glaciers’ mass balance and energy budget. Elevation could be a major factor of influence for glacier reflectance, and therefore when studying glacier reflectance, the altitude ranges should be considered. However, due to the limitations of traditional earth
[...] Read more.
Albedo/reflectance is of great importance for glaciers’ mass balance and energy budget. Elevation could be a major factor of influence for glacier reflectance, and therefore when studying glacier reflectance, the altitude ranges should be considered. However, due to the limitations of traditional earth observation systems, conventional analyses usually consider the spatial and temporal patterns of the reflectance average, which is severely restricted. The launch of Landsat-8 gives us the opportunity to study the seasonal glacier reflectance–elevation relationship. We have obtained the monthly near-nadir reflectance per 100 m for twelve glaciers in western China based on 372 scenes of Landsat 8 images acquired from April 2013 to December 2015. Variations of monthly broadband reflectance, reflectance–elevation relationships and reflectance gradients are analyzed and discussed. The results show that the linear trend of the reflectance–elevation relationship (when the altitude is less than 6100 m) is very significant; elevation has greater influence than location on seasonal reflectance variations; and the level of glacier reflectance gradient may relate with its climate. This may be the first work that has used remote-sensing data to analyze seasonal glacier reflectance–elevation patterns. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Glaciers)
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Figure 1

Open AccessArticle Cross-Comparison of Albedo Products for Glacier Surfaces Derived from Airborne and Satellite (Sentinel-2 and Landsat 8) Optical Data
Remote Sens. 2017, 9(2), 110; doi:10.3390/rs9020110
Received: 21 October 2016 / Accepted: 19 January 2017 / Published: 27 January 2017
PDF Full-text (13297 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Surface albedo partitions the amount of energy received by glacier surfaces from shortwave fluxes and modulates the energy available for melt processes. The ice-albedo feedback, influenced by the contamination of bare-ice surfaces with light-absorbing impurities, plays a major role in the melting of
[...] Read more.
Surface albedo partitions the amount of energy received by glacier surfaces from shortwave fluxes and modulates the energy available for melt processes. The ice-albedo feedback, influenced by the contamination of bare-ice surfaces with light-absorbing impurities, plays a major role in the melting of mountain glaciers in a warming climate. However, little is known about the spatial and temporal distribution and variability of bare-ice glacier surface albedo under changing conditions. In this study, we focus on two mountain glaciers located in the western Swiss Alps and perform a cross-comparison of different albedo products. We take advantage of high spectral and spatial resolution (284 bands, 2 m) imaging spectrometer data from the Airborne Prism Experiment (APEX) and investigate the applicability and potential of Sentinel-2 and Landsat 8 data to derive broadband albedo products. The performance of shortwave broadband albedo retrievals is tested and we assess the reliability of published narrow-to-broadband conversion algorithms. The resulting albedo products from the three sensors and different algorithms are further cross-compared. Moreover, the impact of the anisotropy correction is analysed depending on different surface types. While degradation of the spectral resolution impacted glacier-wide mean albedo by about 5%, reducing the spatial resolution resulted in changes of less than 1%. However, in any case, coarser spatial resolution was no longer able to represent small-scale variability of albedo on glacier surfaces. We discuss the implications when using Sentinel-2 and Landsat 8 to map dynamic glaciological processes and to monitor glacier surface albedo on larger spatial and more frequent temporal scales. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Glaciers)
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Open AccessArticle An Inter-Comparison of Techniques for Determining Velocities of Maritime Arctic Glaciers, Svalbard, Using Radarsat-2 Wide Fine Mode Data
Remote Sens. 2016, 8(9), 785; doi:10.3390/rs8090785
Received: 20 July 2016 / Revised: 12 September 2016 / Accepted: 16 September 2016 / Published: 21 September 2016
PDF Full-text (29991 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Glacier dynamics play an important role in the mass balance of many glaciers, ice caps and ice sheets. In this study we exploit Radarsat-2 (RS-2) Wide Fine (WF) data to determine the surface speed of Svalbard glaciers in the winters of 2012/2013 and
[...] Read more.
Glacier dynamics play an important role in the mass balance of many glaciers, ice caps and ice sheets. In this study we exploit Radarsat-2 (RS-2) Wide Fine (WF) data to determine the surface speed of Svalbard glaciers in the winters of 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 using Synthetic Aperture RADAR (SAR) offset and speckle tracking. The RS-2 WF mode combines the advantages of the large spatial coverage of the Wide mode (150 × 150 km) and the high pixel resolution (9 m) of the Fine mode and thus has a major potential for glacier velocity monitoring from space through offset and speckle tracking. Faster flowing glaciers (1.95 m·d−1–2.55 m·d−1) that are studied in detail are Nathorstbreen, Kronebreen, Kongsbreen and Monacobreen. Using our Radarsat-2 WF dataset, we compare the performance of two SAR tracking algorithms, namely the GAMMA Remote Sensing Software and a custom written MATLAB script (GRAY method) that has primarily been used in the Canadian Arctic. Both algorithms provide comparable results, especially for the faster flowing glaciers and the termini of slower tidewater glaciers. A comparison of the WF data to RS-2 Ultrafine and Wide mode data reveals the superiority of RS-2 WF data over the Wide mode data. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Glaciers)
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