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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 25 Mar 2019

Research article | 25 Mar 2019

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).

Glacier thickness estimations of alpine glaciers using data and modeling constraints

Lisbeth Langhammer1, Melchior Grab1,2, Andreas Bauder2, and Hansruedi Maurer1 Lisbeth Langhammer et al.
  • 1Institute of Geophysics, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
  • 2Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology (VAW), ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Abstract. Advanced knowledge of the ice thickness distribution within glaciers is of fundamental importance for several purposes, such as water resource management and studying the impact of climate change. Ice thicknesses can be modeled using ice surface features, but the resulting models can be prone to considerable uncertainties. Alternatively, it is possible to measure ice thicknesses, for example, with ground-penetrating-radar (GPR). Such measurements are typically restricted to a few profiles, with which it is not possible to obtain spatially unaliased subsurface images. We developed the Glacier Thickness Estimation algorithm (GlaTE), which optimally combines modeling results and measured ice thicknesses in an inversion procedure to obtain overall thickness distributions. Properties and benefits of GlaTE are demonstrated with three case studies performed on different types of alpine glaciers. In all three cases, subsurface models could be found that are consistent with glaciological modeling and GPR data constraints. Since acquiring GPR data on glaciers can be an expensive endeavor, we additionally employed elements of sequential optimized experimental design (SOED) for determining cost-optimized GPR survey layouts. The calculated benefit-cost curves indicate that a relatively large amount of data can be acquired, before redundant information is collected with any additional profiles and it becomes increasingly expensive to obtain further information. Only at one out of the three test sites this level was reached.

Lisbeth Langhammer et al.
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Lisbeth Langhammer et al.
Lisbeth Langhammer et al.
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Latest update: 24 Jun 2019
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
We have developed a novel procedure for glacier thickness estimations that combines traditional glaciological modeling constraints with ground-truth data, for example obtained with ground-penetrating-radar (GPR) measurements. This procedure is very useful for determining ice volumes, when only limited data are available. Furthermore, we outline a strategy for acquiring GPR data on glaciers, such that the benefit/cost ratio is optimized.
We have developed a novel procedure for glacier thickness estimations that combines traditional...