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Potential of RADARSAT-2 stereo radargrammetry for the generation of glacier DEMs

  • C. PAPASODORO (a1) (a2), A. ROYER (a1) (a2), A. LANGLOIS (a1) (a2) and E. BERTHIER (a3)


The study of glaciers and ice caps in remote and cloudy regions remains difficult using current remote sensing tools. Here the potential of stereo radargrammetry (SRG) with RADARSAT-2 Wide Ultra-Fine images is explored for DEM extraction, elevation changes and mass-balance calculations on Barnes Ice Cap (Nunavut, Canada). Over low-relief terrain surrounding Barnes, a vertical precision of ~7 m (1σ confidence level) is measured, as well as an average vertical bias of ~4 m. Moreover, we show that the C-band penetration depth over the ice cap is insignificant at this time of the year (i.e. late ablation season). This is likely due to a wet surface and the presence of superimposed ice that leads to a surface radar response. Comparing the SRG DEMs with other datasets, an historical glacier-wide mass balance of −0.52 ± 0.19 m w.e. a−1 is estimated for 1960–2013, whereas it decreases to −1.06 ± 0.84 m w.e. a−1 between 2005 and 2013. This clear acceleration of mass loss is in agreement with other recent studies. Given its all-weather functionality and its possible use without ground control points, the RADARSAT-2 SRG technology represents an appropriate alternative for glacier monitoring in cloudy and remote regions.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Correspondence: Charles Papasodoro <>


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Potential of RADARSAT-2 stereo radargrammetry for the generation of glacier DEMs

  • C. PAPASODORO (a1) (a2), A. ROYER (a1) (a2), A. LANGLOIS (a1) (a2) and E. BERTHIER (a3)


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