Spatial mapping of multi-year superimposed ice on the glacier Kongsvegen, Svalbard

Ola Brandt, Jack Kohler, Mikael Lüthje

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    Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and satellite ERS-2 synthetic aperture radar (SAR) are used to map the thickness and extent of the superimposed ice (SI) zone on the surge-type glacier Kongsvegen, Svalbard. GPR imagery shows sub-horizontal SI layers lying unconformably above a discrete boundary. Below this boundary, the ice has a GPR signature similar to that of ice further down-glacier in the ablation zone. This boundary is posited to represent the closing of crevasses that were created during the last surge of Kongsvegen in similar to 1948. Open crevasses would have interrupted the formation of sheet layers of SI due to efficient vertical drainage of the snowpack. Aerial photographs suggest that the crevasses closed sometime in the period 1956-66. A classified SAR image from 2003 is used to delineate the extent of the SI zone. The SI extent in the SAR image agrees well with the SI zone mapped by GPR. Using the SI spatial depth distribution, we estimate the mean annual accumulation of superimposed ice to be 0.16 +/- 0.06 mw.e.a(-1) (locally up to 0.43 ma(-1) w.e.). This corresponds to similar to 15-33% of the local winter balance and similar to 5-10% of the total winter balance measured since 1987.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Glaciology
    Issue number184
    Pages (from-to)73-80
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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