Articles | Volume 5, issue 3
Research article
27 Sep 2011
Research article |  | 27 Sep 2011

Monitoring spatial and temporal variations of surface albedo on Saint Sorlin Glacier (French Alps) using terrestrial photography

M. Dumont, P. Sirguey, Y. Arnaud, and D. Six

Abstract. Accurate knowledge of temperate glacier mass balance is essential to understand the relationship between glacier and climate. Defined as the reflected fraction of incident radiation over the whole solar spectrum, the surface broadband albedo is one of the most important variable in a glacier's mass balance. This study presents a new method to retrieve the albedo of frozen surfaces from terrestrial photography at visible and near infrared wavelengths. This method accounts for the anisotropic reflectance of snow and ice surfaces and uses a radiative transfer model for narrow-to-broadband conversion. The accuracy of the method was assessed using concomitant measurements of albedo during the summers 2008 and 2009 on Saint Sorlin Glacier (Grandes Rousses, France). These albedo measurements are performed at two locations on the glacier, one in the ablation area and the other in the accumulation zone, with a net radiometer Kipp and Zonen CNR1. The main sources of uncertainty are associated with the presence of high clouds and the georeferencing of the photographs.