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Technical note on glacier dynamics in the study area

The survey of glacier velocities using spaceborne remote sensing data was performed for the first time in the history of the exploration of Svartisen Ice Caps. The velocities of 4 outlet glaciers were determined from spaceborne ERS-1/2 INSAR data obtained over the study site in March 1996.

Horizontal velocities were surveyed at 7 to 11 surface points of Engabreen, Litlbreen, Storglombreen, Frukostindenbreen and Hintereisferner glaciers during 3 field campaigns in summers 2002, 2003 and compared with INSAR winter velocities. The tachometric differences revealed were explained by seasonal changes in glacier motion, different duration of observations, methodological imperfections and the influence of glacier melting and tilting of separate ice blocks.

The analysis of multitemporal spaceborne SAR and optical imagery provided certain evidence on the character of the ice flow at test glaciers. A significant retreat of glacial termini was detected in the study areas in the past 5 years. The maximum losses of glacier ice were recorded at termini of Fingerbreen (1.4 km²), Hintereisferner (0.37 km²), Guslarferner (0.16 km²), Vernaglwandferner (0.13 km²) and Storglombreen (0.11 km²) glaciers.

Local changes in area amounting to 20% (Guslarferner), 14% (Vernaglwandferner) and 10% (Fingerbreen) of the total glacier area can be considered as more than significant even for relatively large valley glaciers in Europe. Present estimations of glacier dynamics in the OMEGA test sites are believed to be both expedient and useful for further multidisciplinary studies in European glacial areas.

Reported by

Joanneum Research Forschungsgesellschaft mbH
Wastiangasse 6
8010 Graz
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