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Global assessment of supraglacial debris-cover extents


Scherler, Dirk; Wulf, Hendrik; Gorelick, Noel (2018). Global assessment of supraglacial debris-cover extents. Geophysical Research Letters, 45(21):11,798-11,805.

Abstract

Rocky debris on glacier surfaces influences ice melt rates and the response of glaciers to climate change. However, scarce data on the extent and evolution of supraglacial debris cover have so far limited its inclusion in regional to global glacier models. Here we present global data sets of supraglacial debris-cover extents, based on Landsat 8 and Sentinel-2 optical satellite imagery. We find that about 4.4% (~26,000 km2) of all glacier areas (excluding the Greenland ice sheet and Antarctica) are covered with debris, but that the distribution is heterogeneous. The largest debris-covered areas are located in high-mountain ranges, away from the poles. At a global scale, we find a negative scaling relationship between glacier size and percentage of debris. Therefore, the influence of debris cover on glacier mass balances is expected to increase in the future, as glaciers continue to shrink.

Abstract

Rocky debris on glacier surfaces influences ice melt rates and the response of glaciers to climate change. However, scarce data on the extent and evolution of supraglacial debris cover have so far limited its inclusion in regional to global glacier models. Here we present global data sets of supraglacial debris-cover extents, based on Landsat 8 and Sentinel-2 optical satellite imagery. We find that about 4.4% (~26,000 km2) of all glacier areas (excluding the Greenland ice sheet and Antarctica) are covered with debris, but that the distribution is heterogeneous. The largest debris-covered areas are located in high-mountain ranges, away from the poles. At a global scale, we find a negative scaling relationship between glacier size and percentage of debris. Therefore, the influence of debris cover on glacier mass balances is expected to increase in the future, as glaciers continue to shrink.

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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
Uncontrolled Keywords:General Earth and Planetary Sciences, Geophysics
Language:English
Date:16 November 2018
Deposited On:11 Jan 2019 11:18
Last Modified:25 May 2019 00:00
Publisher:American Geophysical Union
ISSN:0094-8276
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1029/2018gl080158
Project Information:
  • : FunderH2020
  • : Grant ID759639
  • : Project TitleCOLD - Climate Sensitivity of Glacial Landscape Dynamics

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