Glacier ice thickness estimation

(2014 – 2019)

WG co-chairs

Daniel Farinotti, Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology (VAW), ETH Zurich, Switzerland, and Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), Switzerland
Huilin Li, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental & Engineering Research Institute (CAREERI), China
Liss M. Andreassen, Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE), Norway

Advisory board

G. Hilmar Gudmundsson, British Antarctic Survey (BAS), United Kingdom
Matthias Huss, Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology (VAW), ETH Zurich, Switzerland

WG members

Brian Anderson, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
David Bahr, University of Colorado, USA
Daniel Binder, Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik (ZAMG), Austria
Jonathan Carrivick, University of Leeds, United Kingdom
Garry K.C. Clarke, University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada
Julian Dowdeswellcott Polar Research Institute, United Kingdom
Andrea Fischer, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Austria
Johannes Fürst, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität (FAU) Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany
Holger Frey, University of Zurich, Switzerland
Isabelle Gärtner-Roer, World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS), Switzerland
Prateek Gantayat, Indian Institute of Science, India
Fabien Gillet-Chaulet, Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Géophysique de l’Environnement (LGGE), France
Kay Helfricht, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Austria
William JamesUniversity of Leeds, United Kingdom
Stanislav Kutuzov, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia
Johannes Landmann, Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology (VAW), ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Ivan Lavrentiev, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia
Paul Leclercq University of Oslo, Norway
Andreas Linsbauer, University of Fribourg (UNIFRI), Switzerland
Stefan Lippl, Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), Germany
Yuri Macharet, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia
Horst Machguth, University of Zurich, Switzerland
Carlos Martin, British Antarctic Survey (BAS), United Kingdom
Fabien Maussion, University of Innsbruck, Austria
Robert W. McNabb, University of Uslo, Norway
Matthieu Morlighem, University of California (JPL), USA
Francisco Navarro, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain
Dmitry Petrakov, Moscow State University, Russia
Antoine Rabatel, Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Géophysique de l’Environnement (LGGE), Grenoble, France
RAAJ RamsankaranIndian Institute of Technology Bombay, India
Ann RowanUniversity of Sheffield, United Kingdom
Valentina Radić, University of British Columbia, Canada
Marius Schaefer, Austral University of Chile, Chile
Ashit K. SwainGeological Survey of India, India
Praveen K. ThakurIndian Institute of Remote Sensing (IIRS), India
Ward J. J. van Pelt, Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI), Norway
Mauro Werder, Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology (VAW), ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Michael Zemp, World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS), Switzerland

Background
Knowledge of the ice thickness distribution and the total volume of a glacier or ice cap is one of the most important prerequisites when addressing a number of glaciological and hydrological problems: It is essential for determining the subglacial topography, which is a necessary boundary condition for ice-flow modeling, and ultimately limits the amount of stored water, which is central for questions linked to water availability, hydrology, or sea level change. Despite this importance, knowledge about the ice thickness distribution of the various glaciers around the globe is remarkably limited. This fact is mainly due to the difficulties in measuring glacier ice thickness directly. To overcome the problem, a series of methods that aim at inferring the total volume and/or the ice thickness distribution of a glacier from the characteristics of its surface have been developed.

Objectives
Perform a model intercomparison and validation experiment for methods that infer the ice thickness distribution of a glacier from characteristics of the surface
Perform a round-robin experiment in which the ice thickness for a set of suitable benchmark glaciers is estimated by as many methods as possible.
Collect, validate, and intercompare the results
Assess which methods are suitable for what situation, and present the results to the community

Associate an estimate of the ice thickness distribution to every glacier of the Randolph Glacier Inventory (RGI)

Continue the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) effort in the collection of ice thickness measurements

Deliverables

Open call for participation in the model intercomparison and validation experiment
Workshop presenting and discussing the results of the experiment
Scientific publication presenting the results of the experiment to the wider community

Estimated ice thickness distribution for every glacier included in the RGI
Link between the provided ice thickness distribution and the RGI outlines

Update of the WGMS Glacier Thickness Database (GlaThiDa)
Link between GlaThiDa and the RGI

Status of the activities

The first phase of the Ice Thickness Models Intercomparison eXperiment (ITMIX) is completed. Results can be found in
our article in The Cryosphere.
ITMIX2 – the second pahse of the Ice Thickness Models Intercomparison eXperiment – is ongoing!
Visit the instruction page for joining or for further detials.

Activities for achieving Objective B are ongoing. Result are expected for 2018.

The second version of the Glacier Thickness Database (GlaThiDa 2.0) is available here or through the GTN-G data browser.

Publications resulting from the WG
D. Farinotti, D.J. Brinkerhoff, G.K. C. Clarke, J.J. Fürst, H. Frey, P. Gantayat, F. Gillet-Chaulet, C. Girard, M. Huss, P.W. Leclercq, A. Linsbauer, H. Machguth, C. Martin, F. Maussion, M. Morlighem, C. Mosbeux, A. Pandit, A. Portmann, A. Rabatel, R. Ramsankaran, T.J. Reerink, O. Sanchez, P.A. Stentoft, S. Singh Kumari, W.J.J. van Pelt, B. Anderson, T. Benham, D. Binder, J.A. Dowdeswell, A. Fischer, K. Helfricht, S. Kutuzov, I. Lavrentiev, R. McNabb, G.H. Gudmundsson, H. Li, and L.M. Andreassen (2017): How accurate are estimates of glacier ice thickness? Results from ITMIX, the Ice Thickness Models Intercomparison eXperiment. The Cryosphere. Vol. 11, pages 949-970. DOI: 10.5194/tc-11-949-2017.
Download pdf

Other related publications
R. Ramsankaran, A. Pandit, and M.F. Azam (2018): Spatially distributed ice-thickness modelling for Chhota Shigri Glacier in western Himalayas, India. International Journal of Remote Sensing. Vol. 39 (10), pages 3320-3343. DOI: 10.1080/01431161.2018.1441563

Andreassen, L.M., M. Huss, K. Melvold, H. Elvehøy, and S.H. Winsvold (2015): Ice thickness measurements and volume estimates for glaciers in Norway. Journal of Glaciology. Vol. 61 (228), pages 763-775. DOI: 10.3189/2015JoG14J161

Gärtner-Roer, I., K. Naegeli, M. Huss, T. Knecht, H. Machguth, and M. Zemp. (2014): A database of worldwide glacier thickness observations. Global and Planetary Change. Vol. 122, pages 330–344. DOI: 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2014.09.003