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Optical Remote Sensing of Glacier Characteristics: A Review with Focus on the Himalaya

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ABSTRACT

Asterr: The increased availability of remote sensing platforms with appropriate spatial and temporal resolution, global coverage and low financial costs allows for fast, semi-automated, and cost-effective estimates of changes in glacier parameters over large areas. Remote sensing approaches allow for regular monitoring of the properties of alpine glaciers such as ice extent, terminus position, volume and surface elevation, from which glacier mass balance can be inferred. Such methods are particularly useful in remote areas with limited field-based glaciological measurements. This paper reviews advances in the use of visible and infrared remote sensing combined with field methods for estimating glacier parameters, with emphasis on volume/area changes and glacier mass balance. The focus is on the dvanced paceborne hermal mission and eflection adiometer (ASTER) sensor and its applicability for monitoring Himalayan glaciers. The methods reviewed are: volumetric changes inferred from digital elevation models (DEMs), glacier delineation algorithms from multi-spectral analysis, changes in glacier area at decadal time scales, and AAR/ELA methods used to calculate yearly mass balances. The current limitations and on-going challenges in using remote sensing for mapping characteristics of mountain glaciers also discussed, specifically in the context of the Himalaya.

No MeSH data available.


Mass-balance at Chhota Shigri glacier as a function of altitude, derived from 4 years of field-based measurements on various glacier tributaries. Courtesy of IRD France, reproduced from [30].
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f4-sensors-08-03355: Mass-balance at Chhota Shigri glacier as a function of altitude, derived from 4 years of field-based measurements on various glacier tributaries. Courtesy of IRD France, reproduced from [30].

Mentions: The ELA-AAR method proposed by [28] was applied sparingly so far in the Himalaya due to limited field-based mass balance measurements needed to infer the bn-ELA relationship. Based on field measurements from several glaciers in the Western Himalaya, [35, 105] proposed a steady-state AAR for the Western Himalaya of 0.44 based on field mass balance measurements. The bn vs. ELA relationship was used at Chhota Shigri glacier in Lahul-Spiti in the Western Indian Himalaya [30] to infer an average ELA and AAR (Fig. 4). The study reported a strong negative mass balance of up to -1.4 m water equivalent for the period 2002 – 2006. The average ELA was ∼ 5180 m and the AAR was 0.3 for all years except 2004/2005 when the mass balance was positive. Continued mass balance measurements are key to establish a relationship between mass balance and AAR and to test the ELA/AAR methods for other areas of the Himalaya.


Optical Remote Sensing of Glacier Characteristics: A Review with Focus on the Himalaya
Mass-balance at Chhota Shigri glacier as a function of altitude, derived from 4 years of field-based measurements on various glacier tributaries. Courtesy of IRD France, reproduced from [30].
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3675549&req=5

f4-sensors-08-03355: Mass-balance at Chhota Shigri glacier as a function of altitude, derived from 4 years of field-based measurements on various glacier tributaries. Courtesy of IRD France, reproduced from [30].
Mentions: The ELA-AAR method proposed by [28] was applied sparingly so far in the Himalaya due to limited field-based mass balance measurements needed to infer the bn-ELA relationship. Based on field measurements from several glaciers in the Western Himalaya, [35, 105] proposed a steady-state AAR for the Western Himalaya of 0.44 based on field mass balance measurements. The bn vs. ELA relationship was used at Chhota Shigri glacier in Lahul-Spiti in the Western Indian Himalaya [30] to infer an average ELA and AAR (Fig. 4). The study reported a strong negative mass balance of up to -1.4 m water equivalent for the period 2002 – 2006. The average ELA was ∼ 5180 m and the AAR was 0.3 for all years except 2004/2005 when the mass balance was positive. Continued mass balance measurements are key to establish a relationship between mass balance and AAR and to test the ELA/AAR methods for other areas of the Himalaya.

View Article: PubMed Central

ABSTRACT

Asterr: The increased availability of remote sensing platforms with appropriate spatial and temporal resolution, global coverage and low financial costs allows for fast, semi-automated, and cost-effective estimates of changes in glacier parameters over large areas. Remote sensing approaches allow for regular monitoring of the properties of alpine glaciers such as ice extent, terminus position, volume and surface elevation, from which glacier mass balance can be inferred. Such methods are particularly useful in remote areas with limited field-based glaciological measurements. This paper reviews advances in the use of visible and infrared remote sensing combined with field methods for estimating glacier parameters, with emphasis on volume/area changes and glacier mass balance. The focus is on the dvanced paceborne hermal mission and eflection adiometer (ASTER) sensor and its applicability for monitoring Himalayan glaciers. The methods reviewed are: volumetric changes inferred from digital elevation models (DEMs), glacier delineation algorithms from multi-spectral analysis, changes in glacier area at decadal time scales, and AAR/ELA methods used to calculate yearly mass balances. The current limitations and on-going challenges in using remote sensing for mapping characteristics of mountain glaciers also discussed, specifically in the context of the Himalaya.

No MeSH data available.