Institutt for geovitenskap
Masterprosjekt - Klima / Miljø

Role of supraglacial ponds in the mass balance of Tapado Glacier, Chile


Project description

Studies have shown that the surface characteristics of debris-covered glaciers, i.e. the presence of ice cliffs and supraglacial lakes, has a large influence on the total ablation of a glacier. Such studies have typically been carried out on large, monsoon-dominated Himalayan glaciers and have typically focused on short time scales. The aim of this master project is to examine the changes to the surface of Tapado Glacier in the Semi-Arid Andes of Chile using a combination of remote sensing, and field-based geomatic techniques. The glaciers and rock glaciers of the Semi-Arid Andes contribute a significant proportion of the annual streamflow to the Elqui river, and as such it is important to study the changes in detail.

Old aerial photographs can be combined with recent stereo satellite images to examine changes in surface elevation and morphology since the mid-1950s. The use of timelapse cameras, drones, and bathymetric surveys can be used to study lake-glacier interactions at finer spatial and temporal scales. This will allow new insights into the interactions between the glacier surface, the glacier mass balance, and the glacier hydrology. Key research questions are how the distribution of these features have changed over time, and in what way they govern the glacier ablation.

The thesis will involve the generation and comparison of digital elevation models, as well as processing drone point cloud data. GEO316 (Practical Skills in Remote Sensing) will provide a good base for the necessary methods. The majority of the remote sensing data has already been purchased. The student would participate on fieldwork in Chile in late 2021 or early 2022.

Proposed course plan during the master's degree (60 ECTS):

Some GIS experience, have passed GEO215 or similar

External data
Aerial photographs and satellite images already purchased. Student will collect drone data in the field

Field- lab- og analysis
There is enough remote sensing data (aerial photos, LiDAR, satellite images) that in the event of further COVID restrictions, the student would have more than enough to do. The plan however is to travel to Chile in late 2021 and acquire drone imagery over key parts of Tapado glacier (mainly the supraglacial ponds and exposed ice cliffs, but also the penetente field). These data will be compared with data collected in 2020 and 2019.