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Open AccessArticle

Cross-Comparison of Albedo Products for Glacier Surfaces Derived from Airborne and Satellite (Sentinel-2 and Landsat 8) Optical Data

Department of Geosciences, University of Fribourg, 1700 Fribourg, Switzerland
Remote Sensing Laboratories, University of Zurich, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland
Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology (VAW), ETH Zurich, 8093 Zurich, Switzerland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2017, 9(2), 110;
Received: 21 October 2016 / Accepted: 19 January 2017 / Published: 27 January 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Glaciers)
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. View Full-Text
Keywords: glacier; Albedo; Light-absorbing impurities; APEX; Sentinel-2; Landsat; narrow-to-broadband glacier; Albedo; Light-absorbing impurities; APEX; Sentinel-2; Landsat; narrow-to-broadband
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MDPI and ACS Style

Naegeli, K.; Damm, A.; Huss, M.; Wulf, H.; Schaepman, M.; Hoelzle, M. Cross-Comparison of Albedo Products for Glacier Surfaces Derived from Airborne and Satellite (Sentinel-2 and Landsat 8) Optical Data. Remote Sens. 2017, 9, 110.

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