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Cross-comparison of albedo products for glacier surfaces derived from airborne and satellite (Sentinel-2 and Landsat 8) optical data


Naegeli, Kathrin; Damm, Alexander; Huss, Matthias; Wulf, Hendrik; Schaepman, Michael E; Hoelzle, Martin (2017). Cross-comparison of albedo products for glacier surfaces derived from airborne and satellite (Sentinel-2 and Landsat 8) optical data. Remote Sensing, 9(2):110.

Abstract

Surface albedo partitions the amount of energy received by glacier surfaces from shortwave fluxes and modulates the energy available for melt processes. The ice-albedo feedback, influenced by the contamination of bare-ice surfaces with light-absorbing impurities, plays a major role in the melting of mountain glaciers in a warming climate. However, little is known about the spatial and temporal distribution and variability of bare-ice glacier surface albedo under changing conditions. In this study, we focus on two mountain glaciers located in the western Swiss Alps and perform a cross-comparison of different albedo products. We take advantage of high spectral and spatial resolution (284 bands, 2 m) imaging spectrometer data from the Airborne Prism Experiment (APEX) and investigate the applicability and potential of Sentinel-2 and Landsat 8 data to derive broadband albedo products. The performance of shortwave broadband albedo retrievals is tested and we assess the reliability of published narrow-to-broadband conversion algorithms. The resulting albedo products from the three sensors and different algorithms are further cross compared. Moreover, the impact of the anisotropy correction is analysed depending on different surface types. While degradation of the spectral resolution impacted glacier-wide mean albedo by about 5%, reducing the spatial resolution resulted in changes of less than 1%. However, in any case, coarser spatial resolution was no longer able to represent small-scale variability of albedo on glacier surfaces. We discuss the implications when using Sentinel-2 and Landsat 8 to map dynamic glaciological processes and to monitor glacier surface albedo on larger spatial and more frequent temporal scales.

Abstract

Surface albedo partitions the amount of energy received by glacier surfaces from shortwave fluxes and modulates the energy available for melt processes. The ice-albedo feedback, influenced by the contamination of bare-ice surfaces with light-absorbing impurities, plays a major role in the melting of mountain glaciers in a warming climate. However, little is known about the spatial and temporal distribution and variability of bare-ice glacier surface albedo under changing conditions. In this study, we focus on two mountain glaciers located in the western Swiss Alps and perform a cross-comparison of different albedo products. We take advantage of high spectral and spatial resolution (284 bands, 2 m) imaging spectrometer data from the Airborne Prism Experiment (APEX) and investigate the applicability and potential of Sentinel-2 and Landsat 8 data to derive broadband albedo products. The performance of shortwave broadband albedo retrievals is tested and we assess the reliability of published narrow-to-broadband conversion algorithms. The resulting albedo products from the three sensors and different algorithms are further cross compared. Moreover, the impact of the anisotropy correction is analysed depending on different surface types. While degradation of the spectral resolution impacted glacier-wide mean albedo by about 5%, reducing the spatial resolution resulted in changes of less than 1%. However, in any case, coarser spatial resolution was no longer able to represent small-scale variability of albedo on glacier surfaces. We discuss the implications when using Sentinel-2 and Landsat 8 to map dynamic glaciological processes and to monitor glacier surface albedo on larger spatial and more frequent temporal scales.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:2017
Deposited On:13 Mar 2017 09:17
Last Modified:13 Mar 2017 09:17
Publisher:MDPI Publishing
ISSN:2072-4292
Additional Information:Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers.
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3390/rs9020110

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Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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