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Combining Airborne Photographs and Spaceborne SAR Data to Monitor Temperate Glaciers: Potentials and Limits

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13 Author(s)
Emmanuel Trouve ; Lab. d''Informatique, Syst., Univ. de Savoie, Annecy-le-Vieux ; Gabriel Vasile ; Michel Gay ; Lionel Bombrun
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Monitoring temperate glacier activity has become more and more necessary for economical and security reasons and as an indicator of the local effects of global climate change. Remote sensing data provide useful information on such complex geophysical objects, but they require specific processing techniques to cope with the difficult context of moving and changing features in high-relief areas. This paper presents the first results of a project involving four laboratories developing and combining specific methods to extract information from optical and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data. Two different information sources are processed, namely: 1) airborne photography and 2) spaceborne C-band SAR interferometry. The difficulties and limitations of their processing in the context of Alpine glaciers are discussed and illustrated on two glaciers located in the Mont-Blanc area. The results obtained by aerial triangulation techniques provide digital terrain models with an accuracy that is better than 30 cm, which is compatible with the computation of volume balance and useful for precise georeferencing and slope measurement updating. The results obtained by SAR differential interferometry using European Remote Sensing Satellite images show that it is possible to measure temperate glacier surface velocity fields from October to April in one-day interferograms with approximately 20-m ground sampling. This allows to derive ice surface strain rate fields required to model the glacier flow. These different measurements are complementary to results obtained during the summer from satellite optical data and ground measurements that are available only in few accessible points

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IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing  (Volume:45 ,  Issue: 4 )