The Cryosphere Discuss., 7, 267-319, 2013
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This discussion paper has been under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC). Please refer to the corresponding final paper in TC.
Area and volume loss of the glaciers in the Ortles-Cevedale group (Eastern Italian Alps): controls and imbalance of the remaining glaciers
L. Carturan1, R. Filippi2,3,4,*, R. Seppi5, P. Gabrielli3,6, C. Notarnicola2, L. Bertoldi7, F. Paul8, P. Rastner8, F. Cazorzi9, R. Dinale10, and G. Dalla Fontana1
1Department of Land, Environment, Agriculture and Forestry, University of Padova, Agripolis, Viale dell'Università 16, 35020 Legnaro, Padova, Italy
2Institute for Applied Remote Sensing, EURAC, Viale Druso 1, 39100 Bolzano, Italy
3Byrd Polar Research Center, The Ohio State University, 108 Scott Hall, 1090 Carmack Road, Columbus, Ohio 43210-1002, USA
4Museo delle Scienze, Via Calepina 14, 38122, Trento, Italy
5Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Pavia, Via Ferrata 1, 27100, Pavia, Italy
6School of Earth Science, The Ohio State University, 275 Mendenhall Laboratory, 125 South Oval Mall, Columbus, Ohio 43210, USA
7Chartagena, aerial analysis, Via Maccani 211, 38121, Trento, Italy
8Department of Geography, University of Zurich, – Irchel Winterthurerstr. 190, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland
9Department of Agriculture and Environmental Science, University of Udine, Via delle Scienze 208, 33100 Udine, Italy
10Ufficio Idrografico – Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano, Via Mendola 33, 39100 Bolzano, Italy

Abstract. A widespread loss of glacier area and volume was observed in the European Alps since the 1980s. Besides differences among various regions of the Alps, different responses characterize neighboring glaciers within the same region. In this study we describe the glacier changes in the Ortles-Cevedale group, the largest glacierized area in the Italian Alps. We characterize the drivers, the spatial variability and the main factors controlling the current loss of ice in this region by comparing glacier extents and snow covered areas derived from Landsat images acquired in 1987 and 2009. Glacier outlines were obtained from a band ratio with manual corrections and snow was classified from a near infrared image after topographic correction. The total glacierized area shrank by 23% in this period, with no significant changes in the mean altitude of the glaciers. The snowline is now 240 m higher than in the 1960s and 1970s. From the snow covered area of 2009, which fairly represents the extent of the accumulation areas over the last decade, we estimate that about 50% of the remaining glacier surfaces have to melt away to re-establish equilibrium with present climatic conditions. The average geodetic mass budget rate, calculated for 112 ice bodies by differencing two Digital Terrain Models (DTMs), ranged from −0.15 to −1.50 m w.e. a−1, averaging −0.68 m w.e. a−1. A correlation analysis of mass budgets vs. topographic variables confirmed the important role of the hypsometry in controlling area and volume loss of larger glaciers, while a higher variability characterizes smaller glaciers and glacierets, likely due to the increasing importance of local topo-climatic conditions.

Citation: Carturan, L., Filippi, R., Seppi, R., Gabrielli, P., Notarnicola, C., Bertoldi, L., Paul, F., Rastner, P., Cazorzi, F., Dinale, R., and Dalla Fontana, G.: Area and volume loss of the glaciers in the Ortles-Cevedale group (Eastern Italian Alps): controls and imbalance of the remaining glaciers, The Cryosphere Discuss., 7, 267-319, doi:10.5194/tcd-7-267-2013, 2013.
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