PhD thesis on the remote sensing of the Greenland Ice Sheet

Malin Johansson defended her thesis on the remote sensing of the Greenland Ice Sheet on April 20th. Her thesis is titled:

Remote sensing of supra-glacial lakes on the west Greenland Ice Sheet


The Greenland Ice Sheet is the largest ice sheet in the northern hemisphere. Ongoing melting of the ice sheet, resulting in increased mass loss relative to the longer term trend, has raised concerns about the stability of the ice sheet. Melt water generated at the surface is temporarily stored in supra-glacial lakes on the ice sheet. Connections between melt water generation, storage and ice sheet dynamics highlight the importance of the surface hydrological system.

In this thesis different methods are used that improve our ability to observe the supra-glacial lake system on the west Greenland Ice Sheet. This region of the Greenland Ice Sheet has the most extensive supra-glacial hydrological system with a dense network of streams connecting lakes that can exceed several square kilometres in area. Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and visible-near infrared (VNIR) images are used to explore the potential of different sensor systems for regular observations of the supra-glacial lakes. SAR imagery is found to be a useful complement to VNIR data. VNIR data from moderate resolution sensors are preferred as these provide high temporal resolution data, ameliorating problems with cloud cover.

The dynamic nature of the lakes makes automated classification difficult and manual mapping has been widely used. Here a new method is proposed that improves on existing methods by automating the identification and classification of lakes, and by introducing a flexible system that can capture the full range of lake forms. Applying our new method we are better able to analyse the evolution of lakes over a number of melt seasons. We find that lakes initiate after approximately 40 positive degree days. Most lakes exist for less than 20 days before draining, or later in the season, and less often, freezing over. Using the automated method developed in this thesis lakes have been mapped in imagery from 2001–2010 at approximately five day intervals.

Full bibliographic information can be found on the Stokholm University DiVA Database.

This entry was posted in Climate Change, Glaciers, Misc. Information, Remote Sensing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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