07 Feb 2023
 | 07 Feb 2023
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

The Aneto Glacier (Central Pyrenees) evolution from 1981 to 2022: ice loss observed from historic aerial image photogrammetry and recent remote sensing techniques

Ixeia Vidaller, Eñaut Izagirre, Luis Mariano del Rio, Esteban Alonso-González, Francisco Rojas-Heredia, Enrique Serrano, Ana Moreno, Juan Ignacio López-Moreno, and Jesús Revuelto

Abstract. The Aneto Glacier, although it may be considered very small (<0.5 km2), is the largest glacier in the Pyrenees. Its shrinkage and wastage have been continuous in recent decades, and there are signs of accelerated melting in recent years. In this study, changes in the area and volume of the Aneto Glacier from 1981 to 2022 are investigated using historical aerial imagery, airborne LiDAR point clouds, and UAV imagery. A GPR survey conducted in 2020, combined with data from photogrammetric analyses, allowed us to reconstruct the current ice thickness and also the existing ice distribution in 1981 and 2011. Over the last 41 years, the total glaciated area has shrunk by 64.7 % and the ice thickness has decreased, on average, by 30.5 m. The mean remaining ice thickness in autumn 2022 was 11.9 m, as against the mean thicknesses of 32.9 m, 19.2 m and 15.0 m reconstructed for 1981 and 2011 and observed in 2020 respectively. The results demonstrate the critical situation of the glacier, with an imminent segmentation into two smaller ice bodies and no evidence of an accumulation zone. We also found that the occurrence of an extremely hot and dry year, as observed in the 2021–2022 season, leads to a drastic degradation of the glacier, posing a high risk to the persistence of the Aneto Glacier, a situation that could extend to the rest of the Pyrenean glaciers in a relatively short time.

Ixeia Vidaller et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on tc-2022-261', Pierre Pitte, 20 Mar 2023
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Ixeia Vidaller-Gayán, 31 May 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on tc-2022-261', Anonymous Referee #2, 14 Apr 2023
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Ixeia Vidaller-Gayán, 31 May 2023

Ixeia Vidaller et al.

Ixeia Vidaller et al.


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Short summary
The Aneto Glacier, the largest glacier in the Pyrenees shows continuous shrinkage and wastage in the last decades. In this study, we examine changes in its area and volume from 1981 to 2022, and the remain ice thickness, by a GRP survey in 2020. During these 41 years, the glacier has shrunk by 64.7 % and the ice thickness has decreased by 30.5 m on average. The mean remaining ice thickness in 2022 was 11.9 m, compared to 32.9 m in 1981.The results highlight the critical situation of the glacier.