Observing supraglacial stream dynamics on the Greenland Ice Sheet using remote sensing

Authors: Alina Schulz*,
Topics: Cryosphere
Keywords: Cryosphere, Remote Sensing, Greenland Ice Sheet
Session Type: Guided Poster
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Roosevelt 3.5, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The supraglacial hydrologic network that develops on the Greenland Ice Sheet surface every melt season has come to interest research due to its effects on albedo and the implications for the global climate system. Recent findings have concluded that the need to enhance the current understanding of hydrologic functions within the Greenland Ice Sheet is vital for accurately predicting global sea level rise. This study looks into the characteristics and spatial distributions of sediment in stream networks and how they impact surface albedo. While strides among in situ observations have advanced our understanding of supraglacial hydrology, the complexity of these systems demand for new gathering and analyzing techniques to scale observations to the watershed and regional scale. Through repeated drone surveys on the Russell Glacier in southwest Greenland, we collected high resolution images of a single supraglacial stream reach. Photogrammetric techniques in combination with precise ground control points aided in the creation of a digital elevation model (DEM) and orthophoto-mosaic. Supervised classification of these outputs allowed for centimeter scale analysis of sediment coverage. This, along with in-situ velocity measurements, allowed for a direct comparison of hydrologic parameters and albedo. The results contribute to the evolving knowledge base informing researchers of the dynamics contributing to the positive feedback loop involving sediment distribution and lowered surface albedo. This study shows the potential of relating fine scale Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) surveys to broad scale phenomena occurring on the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet today in order to enhance future projections.

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