Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

Using remote-sensing data to determine equilibrium-line altitude and mass-balance time series: validation on three French glaciers, 1994–2002

  • Antoine Rabatel (a1) (a2), Jean-Pierre Dedieu (a1) and Christian Vincent

Abstract

Alpine glaciers are very sensitive to climate fluctuations, and their mass balance can be used as an indicator of regional-scale climate change. Here, we present a method to calculate glacier mass balance using remote-sensing data. Snowline measurements from remotely sensed images recorded at the end of the hydrological year provide an effective proxy of the equilibrium line. Mass balance can be deduced from the equilibrium-line altitude (ELA) variations. Three well-documented glaciers in the French Alps, where the mass balance is measured at ground level with a stake network, were selected to assess the accuracy of the method over the 1994–2002 period (eight mass-balance cycles). Results obtained by ground measurements and remote sensing are compared and show excellent correlation (r 2 > 0.89), both for the ELA and for the mass balance, indicating that the remote-sensing method can be applied to glaciers where no ground data exist, on the scale of a mountain range or a given climatic area. The main differences can be attributed to discrepancies between the dates of image acquisition and field measurements. Cloud cover and recent snowfalls constitute the main restrictions of the image-based method.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Using remote-sensing data to determine equilibrium-line altitude and mass-balance time series: validation on three French glaciers, 1994–2002
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Using remote-sensing data to determine equilibrium-line altitude and mass-balance time series: validation on three French glaciers, 1994–2002
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Using remote-sensing data to determine equilibrium-line altitude and mass-balance time series: validation on three French glaciers, 1994–2002
      Available formats
      ×

Copyright

References

Hide All
Adam, S., Pietroniro, A. and Brugman, M.M. 1997 Glacier snow line mapping using ERS-1 SAR imagery. Remote Sens. Environ., 61(1), 4654.
Berthier, E., Arnaud, Y., Baratoux, D., Vincent, C. and Rémy, F. 2004 Recent rapid thinning of the Mer de Glace glacier derived from satellite optical images. Geophys. Res. Lett., 31,
Bindschadler, R. 1998 Monitoring ice sheet behavior from space. Rev. Geophys., 36(1), 79104.
Braithwaite, R.J. 1984 Can the mass balance of a glacier be estimated from its equilibrium-line altitude? J. Glaciol., 30(106), 364368.
Braithwaite, R.J. and Zhang, Y. 1999 Relationships between interannual variability of glacier mass balance and climate. J. Glaciol., 45(151), 456462.
De Ruyter de Wildt, M.S. and Oerlemans, J. 2003 Satellite retrieval of mass balance: comparing SAR images with albedo images and in situ mass balance observations. J. Glaciol., 49(166), 437448.
Dedieu, J.P. and Reynaud, L. 1990 Télédétection appliquée au suivi des glaciers des Alpes françaises (annees 1986, 1987 et 1988). La Houille Blanche, 5, 355358.
Engeset, R.V. and R.S., Ødegård. 1999 Comparison of annual changes in winter ERS-1 SAR images and glacier mass balance of Slakbreen, Svalbard. Int. J. Remote Sensing, 20(2), 259271.
Herren, E.R., Hoelzle, M., Maisch, M. and Bauder, A. 2002. The Swiss glaciers, 1999/2000 and 2000/2001. Zürich, Swiss Academy of Sciences. Glaciological Commission; Federal Institute of Technology.
Houghton, J.T. eds. 2001. Climate change 2001: the scientific basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge, etc., Cambridge University Press.
Hubbard, A. 2000 Glacier mass-balance determination by remote sensing and high-resolution modelling. J. Glaciol., 46(154), 491498.
Kääb, A., Paul, F., Maisch, M., Hoelzle, M. and Haeberli, W. 2002 The new remote-sensing-derived Swiss glacier inventory: II. First results. Ann. Glaciol., 34, 362366.
Kaser, G. 2001 Glacier–climate interaction at low latitudes. J. Glaciol., 47(157), 195204.
König, M., Winther, J.G. and Isaksson, E. 2001 Measuring snow and glacier ice properties from satellite. Rev. Geophys., 39(1), 128.
Kuhn, M. 1984 Mass budget imbalances as criterion for a climatic classification of glaciers. Geogr. Ann., 66A(3), 229238.
Kuhn, M. 1989 The response of the equilibrium line altitude to climatic fluctuations: theory and observations. In Oerlemans, J., ed. Glacier fluctuations and climatic change. Dordrecht, etc., Kluwer Academic Publishers, 407417.
Leonard, K.C. and Fountain, A.G. 2003 Map-based methods for estimating glacier equilibrium-line altitudes. J. Glaciol., 49(166), 329336.
Lliboutry, L. 1965. Traité de glaciology. Tome II: Glaciers, variations du climat, sols gelés edition. Paris, Masson et Cie.
Martin, S. 1974 Correlation bilans de masse annuels–facteurs météorologiques dans les Grandes Rousses. Z. Gletscherkd. Glazialgeol., 10, 89100.
Massom, R. 1995 Satellite remote sensing of polar snow and ice: present status and future directions. Polar Record, 31(177), 99114.
Meier, M.F. 1979. Remote sensing of snow and ice. Paris, Unesco/International Association of Hydrological Sciences.
Oerlemans, J. and Hoogendoorn, N.C. 1989 Mass-balance gradients and climatic change. J. Glaciol., 35(121), 399405.
Oerlemans, J. and Reichert, B.K. 2000 Relating glacier mass balance to meteorological data by using a seasonal sensitivity characteristic. J. Glaciol., 46(152), 16.
Oerlemans, J. 1998 Modelling the response of glaciers to climate warming. Climate Dyn., 14(4), 267274.
Østrem, G. 1975 ERTS data in glaciology – an effort to monitor glacier mass balance from satellite imagery. J. Glaciol., 15(73), 403415.
Paterson, W.S.B. 1994. The physics of glaciers. Third edition. Oxford, etc., Elsevier.
Paul, F., Huggel, C. and Kääb, A. 2004 Combining satellite multispectral image data and a digital elevation model for mapping debris-covered glaciers. Remote Sens. Environ., 89, 510518.
Rabatel, A., Dedieu, J.P. and Reynaud, L. 2002 Reconstitution des fluctuations du bilan de masse du Glacier Blanc (Massif des Ecrins, France) par télédétection optique (imagerie Spot et Landsat). La Houille Blanche, 6/7, 6471.
Raup, B.H., Kieffer, H.H. Hare, T.M. and Kargel, J.S. 2000 Generation of data acquisition requests for the ASTER satellite instrument for monitoring a globally distributed target. IEEE Trans. Geosci. Remote Sens., 38(2), 11051112.
Reynaud, L., Vallon, M. and Letréguilly, A. 1986 Mass-balance measurements: problems and two new methods of determining variations. J. Glaciol., 32(112), 446454.
Vallon, M., Vincent, C. and Reynaud, L. 1998 Altitudinal gradient of mass-balance sensitivity to climatic change from 18 years of observations on glacier d’Argentière, France. J. Glaciol., 44(146), 9396.
Vincent, C. 2002 Influence of climate change over the 20th century on four French glacier mass balances. J. Geophys. Res., 107(D19), 4375.
Vincent, C. and Vallon, M. 1997 Meteorological controls on glacier mass balance: empirical relations suggested by measurements on glacier de Sarennes, France. J. Glaciol., 43(143), 131137.
Vincent, C., Vallon, M., Reynaud, L. and Meur, E.L. 2000 Dynamic behaviour analysis of glacier de Saint Sorlin, France, from 40 years of observations, 1957–97. J. Glaciol., 46(154), 499506.
Vincent, C., Kappenberger, G., Valla, F., Bauder, A., Funk, M. and Le Meur, E. 2004 Ice ablation as evidence of climate change in the Alps over the 20th century. J. Geophys. Res., 109(D10), D10104. (10.1029/2003JD003857.)
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Glaciology
  • ISSN: 0022-1430
  • EISSN: 1727-5652
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-glaciology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed