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Ice-volume changes, bias estimation of mass-balance measurements and changes in subglacial lakes derived by lidar mapping of the surface of Icelandic glaciers

  • Tómas Jóhannesson (a1), Helgi Björnsson (a2), Eyjólfur Magnússon (a2), Sverrir Guðmundsson (a2), Finnur Pálsson (a2), Oddur Sigurðsson (a1), Thorsteinn Thorsteinsson (a1) and Etienne Berthier (a3)...

Abstract

Icelandic glaciers cover ∼11 000 km2 in area and store ∼3600 km3 of ice. Starting in 2008 during the International Polar Year, accurate digital elevation models (DEMs) of the glaciers are being produced with airborne lidar. More than 90% of the glaciers have been surveyed in this effort, including Vatnajökull, Hofsjökull, Myrdalsjökull, Drangajökull, Eyjafjallajökull and several smaller glaciers. The publicly available DEMs are useful for glaciological and geological research, including studies of ice-volume changes, estimation of bias in mass-balance measurements, studies of jökulhlaups and subglacial lakes formed by subglacial geothermal areas, and for mapping of crevasses. The lidar mapping includes a 500-1000 m wide ice-free buffer zone around the ice margins which contains many glacio-geomorphological features, and therefore the new DEMs have proved useful in geological investigations of proglacial areas. Comparison of the lidar DEMs with older maps confirms the rapid ongoing volume changes of the Icelandic ice caps which have been shown by mass-balance measurements since 1995/96. In some cases, ice-volume changes derived by comparing the lidar measurements with older DEMs are in good agreement with accumulated ice-volume changes derived from traditional mass-balance measurements, but in other cases such a comparison indicates substantial biases in the traditional mass-balance records.

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References

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