Gabbud, C. and Micheletti, N. and Lane, S. N. (2016)
Response of a temperate alpine valley glacier to climate change at the decadal scale
- Cite key
- Geografiska Annaler: Series A, Physical Geography
- DOI: 10.1111/geoa.12124
- Glacier advance and recession are considered key indicators of climate change. Understanding the relationship between climatic variations and glacial responses is crucial. Here, we apply archival digital photogrammetry to reconstruct the decadal scale glacial history of an unmonitored Alpine valley glacier, the Haut Glacier d'Arolla, Switzerland, and we use the data generated to explore the linkages between glacier recession and climate forcing. High precision digital elevation models were derived. They show continual recession of the glacier since 1967, associated with long-term climatic amelioration but only a weak reaction to shorter-term climatic deterioration. Glacier surface velocity estimates obtained using surface particle tracking showed that, unlike for most Swiss glaciers during the late 1970s and early 1980s, ice mass flux from the accumulation zone was too low to compensate for the effects of glacier thinning and subsequent snout recession, especially during the rapid warming that occurred through the 1980s. The results emphasise the dangers of inferring glacier response to climate forcing from measurements of the terminus position only and the importance of using remote sensing methods as an alternative, especially where historical imagery is available.