Lidar measurement of surface melt for a temperate Alpine glacier at the seasonal and hourly scales (2015)

Gabbud, C. and Micheletti, N. and Lane, S.N.

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Journal of Glaciology
This study shows how a new generation of terrestrial laser scanners can be used to investigate glacier surface ablation and other elements of glacial hydrodynamics at exceptionally high spatial and temporal resolution. The study area is an alpine valley glacier, Haut Glacier d’Arolla, Switzerland. Here we use an ultra-long-range lidar RIEGL VZ-6000 scanner, having a laser specifically designed for measurement of snow- and ice-cover surfaces. We focus on two timescales: seasonal and daily. Our results show that a near-infrared scanning laser system can provide high-precision elevationchange and ablation data from long ranges, and over relatively large sections of the glacier surface. We use it to quantify spatial variations in the patterns of surface melt at the seasonal scale, as controlled by both aspect and differential debris cover. At the daily scale, we quantify the effects of ogive-related differences in ice surface debris content on spatial patterns of ablation. Daily scale measurements point to possible hydraulic jacking of the glacier associated with short-term water pressure rises. This latter demonstration shows that this type of lidar may be used to address subglacial hydrologic questions, in addition to motion and ablation measurements.