Articles | Volume 4, issue 3
Research article
08 Sep 2010
Research article |  | 08 Sep 2010

Reanalysis of multi-temporal aerial images of Storglaciären, Sweden (1959–99) – Part 1: Determination of length, area, and volume changes

T. Koblet, I. Gärtner-Roer, M. Zemp, P. Jansson, P. Thee, W. Haeberli, and P. Holmlund

Abstract. Storglaciären, located in the Kebnekaise massif in northern Sweden, has a long history of glaciological research. Early photo documentations date back to the late 19th century. Measurements of front position variations and distributed mass balance have been carried out since 1910 and 1945/46, respectively. In addition to these in-situ measurements, aerial photographs have been taken at decadal intervals since the beginning of the mass balance monitoring program and were used to produce topographic glacier maps. Inaccuracies in the maps were a challenge to early attempts to derive glacier volume changes and resulted in major differences when compared to the direct glaciological mass balances. In this study, we reanalyzed dia-positives of the original aerial photographs of 1959, -69, -80, -90 and -99 based on consistent photogrammetric processing. From the resulting digital elevation models and orthophotos, changes in length, area, and volume of Storglaciären were computed between the survey years, including an assessment of related errors. Between 1959 and 1999, Storglaciären lost an ice volume of 19×106 m3, which corresponds to a cumulative ice thickness loss of 5.69 m and a mean annual loss of 0.14 m. This ice loss resulted largely from a strong volume loss during the period 1959–80 and was partly compensated during the period 1980–99. As a consequence, the glacier shows a strong retreat in the 1960s, a slowing in the 1970s, and pseudo-stationary conditions in the 1980s and 1990s.