Changes in the thickness of a glacier are traditionally measured by means of wooden poles and snow-shovels. Those methods are inexpensive and can be carried out to determine the annual or even seasonal result at individual locations.
The Findel glacier lit up, superimposed with changes in the thickness up to 2009. The colors green to red represent the loss of ice, blue shows increased thickness.
Virtual, three-dimensional view of the Findel glacier near Zermatt, based on laser data from 2005, superimposed with an aerial photograph from 2006. swissphoto, with approval from swisstopo BA091673
It is, however, difficult to draw conclusions about changes in the thickness of an entire glacier or all the glaciers in the region merely on the basis of those positional measurements. The scientists now want to overcome that disadvantage of direct field measurement by applying laser technology.
Philip Jörg, a Ph.D candidate involved in this project, explains how it works: "A strongly bundled beam of light is shot from an aircraft and the time is measured that the light needs to reach the surface of the ice and bounce back to the aircraft. From this so-called "run time", the distance from the plane to the glacier can be precisely determined to within just a few centimetres". The laser data and the exact location and position of the aircraft give rise to a highly precise, three-dimensional picture of the glacier's surface.
49 million cubic metres of ice lost
Researchers at the University of Zurich carried out a corresponding campaign in October of this year with a high-resolution laser scanner at the Findel Glacier close to Zermatt. The surface model that was created was compared with the results of a first flight over the glacier in the year 2005 and now enables a conclusion on the changes in thickness and volume of the entire glacier. In those four years, the Findel Glacier has lost almost 3.5 metres of average ice thickness, and as much as 25 to 30 metres at its tongue. Overall, the glacier has lost around 49 million cubic metres of ice. If that volume of ice were melted and emptied into the Lake of Zurich, the water level of the lake would rise by about half a metre.
The next flight is planned for the forthcoming spring. The researchers anticipate new findings with regard to the spatial distribution of the winter snow coverage and its characteristics in terms of water content and reflectance. "While the politicians will be in Copenhagen in the next few days, debating a continuation of the Kyoto Protocol with specific climate targets, we are already working on the basic data of tomorrow", says Michael Zemp, the head of the project and a glaciologist at the University of Zurich.
Beat Müller | idw
The Wadden Sea and the Elbe Studied with Zeppelin, Drones and Research Ships
19.09.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht - Zentrum für Material- und Küstenforschung
FotoQuest GO: Citizen science campaign targets land-use change in Austria
19.09.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...
Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...
Scientists from the MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion report in the first issue of the new journal JOULE.
Cell Press has just released the first issue of Joule, a new journal dedicated to sustainable energy research. In this issue James Birrell, Olaf Rüdiger,...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
19.09.2017 | Event News
19.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
19.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering