Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS

Application of optical satellite data for glacier change detection

Using a multi-temporal database of Landsat images forms the basis for an inexpensive dataset that allows monitoring the same region every 16 days, which is more than suitable for glaciated areas.

An experimental approach was developed to overcome the problems related to traditional methods used for glacier delineation. The method consists of a combination of band rationing (Normalised Difference Snow Index) and thresholding of the thermal band in the image.

The large advantages of this technique are that all corrections and calculations on the satellite images are implemented in graphical models in the professional remote sensing software Erdas Imagine (Copyright). In this way the same procedures can easily be repeated in a semi-automatic manner using new data sets. Furthermore, the method removes artefacts like shadows, peri-glacial (cold) areas, rims of low hanging clouds and dense clouds themselves.

The disadvantage of the method is that the resolution of the result is always limited to the pixel size of the thermal band. Furthermore, sometimes the thermal band shows striping, which creates artefacts in the resulting delineations.

The results will be used in further glacier monitoring research projects and will form the basis for more sophisticated methods to study glacier marginal changes.

Reported by

University of Turku
Department of Geography, University of Turku
20014 Turku
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