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Deriving ice thickness, glacier volume and bedrock morphology of Austre Lovénbreen (Svalbard) using GPRNormal access

Authors: A. Saintenoy, J.-M. Friedt, A.D. Booth, F. Tolle, E. Bernard, D. Laffly, C. Marlin and M. Griselin
Issue: Vol 11, No 2, April 2013 pp. 253 - 261
DOI: 10.3997/1873-0604.2012040
Special Topic: Ground-Penetrating Radar
Language: English
Info: Article, PDF ( 10.42Mb )

Austre Lovénbreen is a 4.6 km2 glacier on the Archipelago of Svalbard (79o N) that has been surveyed over the last 47 years in order to monitor in particular the glacier evolution and associated hydrological phenomena in the context of nowadays global warming. A three-week field survey during April 2010 allowed for the acquisition of a dense mesh of ground-penetrating radar (GPR) data with an average of 14 683 points per km2 (67 542 points total) on the glacier surface. The profiles were acquired using Malå equipment with 100 MHz antennas, towed slowly enough to record on average every 0.3 m, a trace long enough to sound down to 189 m of ice. One profile was repeated with a 50 MHz antenna set to improve electromagnetic wave propagation depth in scattering media observed in the cirques closest to the slopes. The GPR was coupled to a GPS system to position traces. Each profile was manually edited using standard GPR data processing including migration, to pick the reflection arrival time from the ice-bedrock interface. Snow cover was evaluated through 42 snow drilling measurements regularly spaced to cover the entire glacier. These data were acquired at the time of the GPR survey and subsequently spatially interpolated using ordinary kriging. Using a snow velocity of 0.22 m/ns, the snow thickness was converted to electromagnetic wave traveltimes and subtracted from the picked traveltimes to the ice-bedrock interface. The resulting traveltimes were converted to ice thickness using a velocity of 0.17 m/ns. The velocity uncertainty is discussed from a common midpoint profile analysis. A total of 67 542 geo-referenced data points with GPR-derived ice thicknesses, in addition to a glacier boundary line derived from satellite images taken during summer, were interpolated over the entire glacier surface using kriging with a 10 m grid size. Some uncertainty analyses were carried out and we calculated an averaged ice thickness of 76 m and a maximum depth of 164 m with a relative error of 11.9%. The volume of the glacier is derived as 0.3487 ± 0.041 km3. Finally a 10 m grid map of the bedrock topography was derived by subtracting the ice thicknesses from a dual-frequency GPSderived digital elevation model of the surface. These two data sets are the first step for modelling thermal evolution of a glacier and its bedrock, as well as the main hydrological network.

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