SP2.3: Improved volume to mass conversion

Subproject 2.3

Improved volume-to-mass conversion

Glacier mass balance variations are an essential indicator of regional and global climate fluctuations. Today, glacier volume changes can be detected with satellite based systems to a reasonable degree of accuracy, while density estimates of the affected volume are still based on models and a priori assumptions. Even though, methods for volume to mass conversion are established, there exists a considerable knowledge gap with respect to the validation and temporal stability of the assumptions. Especially the transient evolution of the firn pack will strongly influence the density assumptions of the glaciers with time. During periods of negative mass balances, the shrinkage of the snow and firn resources requires an adaptation of the usual conversion techniques. In addition, there is a strong need to investigate the regional variability of density distribution, as the glacier-climate relation is strongly dependent on the regional characteristics like topography, precipitation and wind patterns.

A large data basis exists for Vernagtferner in the Ötztal, related to the temporal development of the glacier and its firn regions. Similar information is available for the adjacent Hintereisferner, making this region an ideal test site for such investigations. A detailed investigation of firn and snow deposits, based on glaciological and geophysical methods and microwave remote sensing instruments should be conducted to provide a clear knowledge about the firn pack architecture and its spatial distribution. In combination with legacy remote sensing observations of firn and snow extents and volume changes, regional climate information will be used to investigate the temporal development of glaciers and their compartments. This analysis should lead to a strongly improved approach for volume to mass conversion, especially with regard to temporal and regional variability, which is also essential for large-scale mass balance assessments. Direct employment of the results in, and exchange with the modelling-orientated sub-projects will be possible and highly welcome.

For specific information on the sub-project please contact: Dr. Christoph Mayer, Alfons-Goppel-Str. 11 (Residenz), 80533 München, T: 089-23031-1260, Christoph.Mayer@badw.de, https://geo.badw.de/das-projekt.html

Co-PIs: T. Mölg (FAU Geography), M Huss (ETH ZH), R. Hock (Univ. Oslo)

Get to know our project affiliated PhD students

Akash Patil

Akash Patil

Room 320,

Geodesy and Glaciology,

Bavarian Academy of Science and Humanities,

Email: akash.patil@badw.de

Phone: +49-(0) 89230311201

I am a PhD student working at BAdW Munich in collaboration with FAU Erlangen. My working research project is mainly on the density profiling of the snow to ice on the Alpine glaciers.  My fascination with researching glaciers has come from my time during my master’s in Applied & Environmental Geoscience (AEG) at the University of Tuebingen Germany. Where I have attained enough knowledge on the application of GPR to subsurface hydrogeology as my Master’s thesis under the supervision of Prof. Dr Reinhard Drews. My push towards nature science can be attributed to my bachelor’s studies in Civil engineering and my working experience in the construction industry and with the NGO as an Environmental and Civil engineer.

In my PhD, research is on the quantitative study of the variation of density with the depth from Snow to Ice in the Alpine Glaciers mainly on the Vernagtferner glacier. Application of GPR to attain spatial and temporal data at the accumulation zone during different seasons of the year, to track the boundary between firn and ice and to understand the dynamics of the glaciers with the regional climate change. This work is supervised by Dr Christoph Mayer at BAdW Munich and Prof. Dr Thomas Mölg from FAU Erlangen.