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Summary of Proposal HYD0055

TitleXMAS - Determination of the Mass Balance of Alpine and Scandinavian Glaciers with TerraSAR-X data
Investigator Hochschild, Volker - Universitaet Tuebingen, Geographisches Institut
Team Members
Prof. Dr. Stoetter, Johann - Universitaet Innsbruck, Institut fuer Geographie
SummaryGlacier monitoring is becoming increasingly important due to global climate change and its impacts on glacier volume. The rapid retreat or advance of glaciers is a potential economic and environmental threat to the mountainous areas of Europe. So accurate and up-to date information of the characteristics and the current trend of these changes, provided by modern satellite systems like TerraSAR-X, are needed in resource management as well as in global change studies. Glaciers are remote objects which have been observed and monitored over a long period (recently also with remote sensing data). The main interest in glacier monitoring has not only been the areal extent of the glacier, but also the glacier topography, thus allowing estimates of the glacier volume and the classification of the accumulation zone. The multipolarimetric design of TerraSAR-X is especially suitable for mapping of the accumulation area. The main objective of the XMAS-project is the evaluation of the potential of TerraSAR-X X-band data to map different glacier surfaces in relation to the determination of mass balance parameters. TerraSAR-X data will be used in combination with other remote sensing sensors by applying data fusion techniques. This synergetic remote sensing analysis comprises object oriented detection and classification of TerraSAR-X data with the major advantages of the high spatial resolution, the fast repetition cycle and the full-polarimetric capabilities in combination with high resolution optical data (QuickBird, etc.) and laser scanner data (DEMs and intensity values), available for two sophisticated test sites in Austria and Norway (Hintereis- und Kesselwandferner, Engabreen - EU-project OMEGA). The methodological approach of the XMAS-project is threefold: (1) With its fast repetition cycle of 11 days TerraSAR-X data will enable multitemporal change detection applications to observe the transition periods in autumn (snow accumulation) and spring (snow melt) with a higher time resolution as ERS and ENVISAT (35 days). This multitemporal quantification of the areal extent and height variations is of tremendous importance for the estimation of mass balance alterations and ice dynamics. (2) The signal intensity and the polarimetric information content are key issues in the detection of snow and firn in the accumulation area of the glaciers, since optical data is unsuitable over there due to missing surface texture. Nevertheless data fusion techniques will be applied to combine TerraSAR-X data with high resolution optical and laser scanner data. Simultaneous to the satellite acquisitions extensive ground measurements of snow depth, etc. will be carried out on the glacier and in the surroundings. (3) Apart from these multisensoral evaluations also new object oriented classification approaches should be developed for applications in glaciology as well as a comparison of the different spatial acquisition modes of TerraSAR-X, to determine the highest potential for future glaciological applications. Since the two test sites are quite small in extension the data requirements therefore focus on time frequent acquisitions throughout the spring/summer (March 2007 August 2007) and autumn/winter (September 2007 February 2008) seasons in all image modes (SC, SM, SL and SH) with quite steep incidence angles. The intended product types are .MGD and .GEC. The expected deliverables of XMAS-project are maps of the accumulation and ablation zones of different European glacier types, which will provide estimations of glacier flow and changes in glacier area as well as ice volume interpreted from various remote sensing data types in connection with glaciological records. Funding is applied for after successful launch of TerraSAR-X within the 6./7. Framework-Programme of the EU as well as for national funds (i.e. DFG, BMBF in Germany). Project planning costs are provided by the different universities and companies involved.

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