Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Elevation changes of mountain glaciers in the Antarctic Peninsula using ASTER-controlled archival aerial photography
Author: Kunz, Matthias
ISNI:       0000 0004 5353 8226
Awarding Body: University of Newcastle Upon Tyne
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2014
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
Over the last 50 years a significant increase in the atmospheric and upper ocean temperatures in the Antarctic Peninsula (AP) region has been observed. As a result major ice-shelves have retreated during the 20th century. In connection, glaciers have accelerated and an increased dynamic ice mass loss is observed, especially over the last decade. Despite these major changes, an exact quantification of ice mass changes of the AP, with its roughly 1000 glaciers, is not available. Almost no long-term (multi-decadal) glacier mass balance records for the AP exist and in-situ measurements are rare. On the other hand, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and British Antarctic Survey (BAS) archives hold a large number of historic aerial stereo-photographs of the AP, dating back to the early 1940s. These images contain a valuable source of information and have been used to demonstrate widespread retreat of glaciers in this region. Less effort has been made so far to use this stereo-photography for the extraction of elevation data to compare it with recent elevation information to determine glacier volume change from which mass changes may be estimated. This dissertation seeks to close this research gap and to extend the number of mass balance records for the AP, by investigating, measuring, and analysing historical glacier elevation change in the AP using digital elevation models (DEMs) derived from USGS and BAS airborne (1948-2005) and ASTER spaceborne (2001-2010) stereo imagery. To ensure reliable and accurate measurements of surface elevation change, extracted DEMs need to be registered in a precise manner. The lack of ground control information in the AP is a major obstacle for this and can result in inaccurate absolute orientations of DEMs. If uncorrected, possible offsets between DEMs introduce significant error and i can lead to an over- or underestimation of glacier change. Thus, in order to precisely co-register corresponding historic and modern DEMs an iterative robust least squares surface matching algorithm was applied. The underlying surface matching approach was previously developed for small-scale coastal erosion studies at Newcastle University. Within the context of this work it has been successfully modified and improved to enable large scale glacier change assessment in areas of steep topography which is typical for the AP. For a total of 12 glaciers in the AP, located along the western coast between 64° and 71° S, DEMs from the historic archive stereo-imagery were successfully extracted and combined with DEMs derived from modern aerial and ASTER satellite imagery. The improved surface matching approach allowed precise co-registration of these DEMs and enabled the accurate measurement of glacier surface mass balance at the lower portion of the glaciers. Widespread frontal glacier surface lowering, of up to 50 m, has been observed on 12 glaciers with a mean lowering rate of 0.28 ± 0.03 m/yr over a period of 37 years (1970-2007). Higher rates, of up to 0.6 m/yr, were observed in the north-western Peninsula. Two glaciers which have multi-epoch coverage show a significantly larger-than-average lowering since about 1990. These results are in close correspondence with an increase in positive degree days over the last four decades and suggest that much of this lowering can be attributed to atmospheric forcing. However, the observed spatial and temporal variations in the lowering rates suggests that the pattern of surface change is not a simple one and that a regional upscaling is not straight forward. The glaciers represent only 1.2 % of all estimated glaciers in the AP and only the glacier fronts (~20 % of each glacier) were studied. Observations also show an elevation increase at some higher altitude locations within a few km of the glacier fronts, raising the potential that the lowering may have been at least partially compensated for by increased high-altitude accumulation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: British Geological Survey BUFI ; NERC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available