Science Service System

Summary of Proposal GEO1703

TitleQuantification of rapid ice-cap and glacier surface change and flow dynamics in Iceland
Investigator Jordan, Colm - British Geological Survey, Earth and Planetary Observation and Monitoring
Team Member
Dr Johannesson, Tomas - Icelandic Meteorological Office, Geophysics
SummaryFounded in 1835, the British Geological Survey (BGS) is the world’s oldest national geological survey and UK’s premier Earth science centre, provider of geoscientific data, information and knowledge. BGS is part of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the UK’s leading body for research and monitoring in environmental science. Funding for this research is provided by NERC. The Earth and Planetary Observation and Monitoring Team of the British Geological Survey (BGS) is constantly assessing and developing new technologies for carrying out innovative research to assess earth system processes and their dynamics. In tandem, our glacial modeling experts have been running a glacier observatory in Iceland studying the evolution of glaciers at Vatnajokull. Our equipment permanently on site includes an automated weather station, seismometer, wind turbine, fixed GPS, automatic stream gauge, stream velocity sensor, automatic camera and eight boreholes. BGS also conducts regular ground based laser scanning surveys. Our ‘virtual observatory’ in Iceland is run in close collaboration with colleagues from the Icelandic Meteorological Office, the public institution of the Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources responsible for monitoring, analyzing and interpreting natural processes in Iceland. This collaboration has granted us access to airborne LiDAR of the region that we can use to calibrate and validate the TSX for velocity and earth system process studies. We aim to calculate and compare spatial and temporal changes in ice elevation and ice flow across field-instrumented glaciers. This research aims to quantify the differing response and dynamics of both land- and water-terminating glaciers draining Vatnajökull. We will use high-resolution airborne LiDAR DEMs of the glacier surface from 2010 (collected by IMO), calibrated with simultaneous in situ dGPS data and laser scanning, to calculate spatial and temporal changes in ice elevation and ice flow across dynamically different (calving and non-calving) glaciers (Breiðamerkurjökull and Virkisjökull). Surface gradient and ice thickness are the main drivers of ice flow in land-terminating glaciers while calving is often the main driver of ice flow in water-terminating glaciers. Dynamic thinning is currently accelerating the mass loss to the ocean at marine-terminating outlet glaciers in the Polar regions. Importantly, this process has been little studied in Iceland. Velocity and change detection will be undertaken using a combination of appropriate techniques. It is expected that the velocity may be too fast for iSBAS, therefore we will also utilize conventional InSAR (using GAMMA and ROI_PAC) and COSI-Corr. The satellite data and results will be integrated with the in situ data and analyzed in GIS prior to visualization in the novel GeoVisionary™ system that has been co-developed by the BGS specifically to handle large complex quantities of raster and vector datasets. There is a wealth of data covering our area of interest in the TSX archive and we request sufficient data to analyse both the water terminating and land terminating Breiðamerkurjökull and Virkisjökull glaciers using a combination of ascending and descending Stripmap scenes. 18 scenes are requested for each glacier, resulting in a total of 36 scenes (a table of scenes can be provided). The TSX data are an essential component which will enable the point data collected in situ and the ‘snapshot in time’ airborne LiDAR data to be fully utilized and integrated into a velocity model. The primary deliverable will be improved knowledge of the glacial processes. The results will be presented in peer reviewed journals and also with significant public outreach in the UK and in Iceland via our contacts at the Skaftafell and Vatnajokull National Parks. These outputs will include spectacular visualisations of recent glacier change using 3D flythroughs.

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