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Glaciological observations of Brúarjökull, Iceland, using synthetic aperture radar and thematic mapper satellite data

  • Dorothy K. Hall (a1), Richard S. Williams (a2) and Oddur Sigurdsson (a3)

Abstract

The first European Remote Sensing Satellite (ERS-1) synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images offer opportunities for studying glacier surface properties and near-surface features. Analysis of back-scatter values from digital SAR data from 18 January, 7 June, 1 September and 25 October 1993 of Brúarjökull, an outlet glacier on the northeastern margin of the Vatnajökull ice cap, Iceland, that has a history of episodic surges, reveals several back-scatter boundaries that may relate to glacier facies and, inferentially, to mass balance. For example, a strong back-scatter boundary on the 18 January image of the snow-covered glacier, representing a back-scatter coefficient, σ°, difference of 4.34dB, appears to coincide with the position of the transient snow line at the end of the 1990–91 budget year. The boundary is visible on the 7 September 1991 Landsat thematic mapper (TM) image. The terminus is very difficult to define because of back-wasting from the last surge (1963–64) but is most easily delineated on the 1 September 1993 SAR and the 7 September 1991 TM images, in part due to the presence of ice-margin lakes.

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References

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