Articles | Volume 15, issue 9
Research article
14 Sep 2021
Research article |  | 14 Sep 2021

Estimating surface mass balance patterns from unoccupied aerial vehicle measurements in the ablation area of the Morteratsch–Pers glacier complex (Switzerland)

Lander Van Tricht, Philippe Huybrechts, Jonas Van Breedam, Alexander Vanhulle, Kristof Van Oost, and Harry Zekollari

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Cited articles

Anderson, L. S. and Anderson, R. S.: Modeling debris-covered glaciers: response to steady debris deposition, The Cryosphere, 10, 1105–1124,, 2016. 
Benoit, L., Gourdon, A., Vallat, R., Irarrazaval, I., Gravey, M., Lehmann, B., Prasicek, G., Gräff, D., Herman, F., and Mariethoz, G.: A high-resolution image time series of the Gorner Glacier – Swiss Alps – derived from repeated unmanned aerial vehicle surveys, Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 11, 579–588,, 2019. 
Berthier, E. and Vincent, C.: Relative contribution of surface mass-balance and ice-flux changes to the accelerated thinning of Mer de Glace, French Alps, over 1979–2008, J. Glaciol., 58, 501–512,, 2012. 
Bisset, R. R., Dehecq, A., Goldberg, D. N., Huss, M., Bingham, R. G., and Gourmelen, N.: Reversed Surface-Mass-Balance Gradients on Himalayan Debris-Covered Glaciers Inferred from Remote Sensing, Remote Sensing, 12,, 2020. 
Braithwaite, R. J.: Glacier mass balance: the first 50 years of international monitoring, Prog. Phys. Geogr., 26, 76–95,, 2002. 
Short summary
We conducted innovative research on the use of drones to determine the surface mass balance (SMB) of two glaciers. Considering appropriate spatial scales, we succeeded in determining the SMB in the ablation area with large accuracy. Consequently, we are convinced that our method and the use of drones to monitor the mass balance of a glacier’s ablation area can be an add-on to stake measurements in order to obtain a broader picture of the heterogeneity of the SMB of glaciers.