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Quality Assessment and Glaciological Applications of Digital Elevation Models Derived from Space-Borne and Aerial Images over Two Tidewater Glaciers of Southern Spitsbergen

Faculty of Earth Sciences, University of Silesia in Katowice, Będzińska 60, 41-200 Sosnowiec, Poland
LEGOS, Université de Toulouse, CNES, CNRS, IRD, UPS, 14 avenue Edouard Belin, 31400 Toulouse, France
Institute of Geophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences, Księcia Janusza 64, 01-452 Warszawa, Poland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(9), 1121;
Received: 28 February 2019 / Revised: 4 May 2019 / Accepted: 7 May 2019 / Published: 10 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Glaciers at Global and Regional Scales)
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In this study, we assess the accuracy and precision of digital elevation models (DEM) retrieved from aerial photographs taken in 2011 and from Very High Resolution satellite images (WorldView-2 and Pléiades) from the period 2012–2017. Additionally, the accuracy of the freely available Strip product of ArcticDEM was verified. We use the DEMs to characterize geometry changes over Hansbreen and Hornbreen, two tidewater glaciers in southern Spitsbergen, Svalbard. The satellite-based DEMs from WorldView-2 and Pléiades stereo pairs were processed using the Rational Function Model (RFM) without and with one ground control point. The elevation quality of the DEMs over glacierized areas was validated with in situ data: static differential GPS survey of mass balance stakes and GPS kinematic data acquired during ground penetrating radar survey. Results demonstrate the usefulness of the analyzed sources of DEMs for estimation of the total geodetic mass balance of the Svalbard glaciers. DEM accuracy is sufficient to investigate glacier surface elevation changes above 1 m. Strips from the ArcticDEM are generally precise, but some of them showed gross errors and need to be handled with caution. The surface of Hansbreen and Hornbreen has been lowering in recent years. The average annual elevation changes for Hansbreen were more negative in the period 2015–2017 (−2.4 m a−1) than in the period 2011–2015 (−1.7 m a−1). The average annual elevation changes over the studied area of Hornbreen for the period 2012–2017 amounted to −1.6 m a−1. The geodetic mass balance for Hansbreen was more negative than the climatic mass balance estimated using the mass budget method, probably due to underestimation of the ice discharge. From 2011 to 2017, Hansbreen lost on average over 1% of its volume each year. Such a high rate of relative loss illustrates how fast these glaciers are responding to climate change. View Full-Text
Keywords: DEM; Pléiades; WorldView; glacier mass balance; Svalbard; tidewater glaciers DEM; Pléiades; WorldView; glacier mass balance; Svalbard; tidewater glaciers

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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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Błaszczyk, M.; Ignatiuk, D.; Grabiec, M.; Kolondra, L.; Laska, M.; Decaux, L.; Jania, J.; Berthier, E.; Luks, B.; Barzycka, B.; Czapla, M. Quality Assessment and Glaciological Applications of Digital Elevation Models Derived from Space-Borne and Aerial Images over Two Tidewater Glaciers of Southern Spitsbergen. Remote Sens. 2019, 11, 1121.

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