Vol. 4, No. 1, 79-93, 2005

Glacier hazard assessment in mountains using satellite optical data
Andreas Kääb, Christian Huggel, Samuel Guex, Frank Paul, Nadine Salzmann, Kostia Schmutz, Demian Schneider and Yvo Weidmann

Process interactions and chain reactions, the shift of cryospheric hazard zones due to climate change, and the far reach of glacier disasters make it necessary to apply modern remote sensing techniques for the assessment of glacier hazards. In the present contribution we provide an overview of spaceborne optical methods suitable for glacial hazard assessment and disaster management. Digital terrain models (DTMs) represent one of the most important data sets for investigating high-mountain hazards. In the optical domain, DTMs are best derived from satellite along-track stereo from sensors such as ASTER or SPOT-5. Test studies suggest an accuracy of up to the pixel size of the applied sensor for conditions of good optical contrast and smooth topography. Fusion of such photogrammetrically derived DTMs with the DTM from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) is a promising way to combine the advantages of both technologies and overcome some of the inherent problems. We demonstrate that large changes in terrain volume such as from avalanche deposits can indeed be measured by repeated satellite DTMs. Visual inspection and automatic classification based on repeated multispectral imagery is a well-developed tool for detecting potential hazard sources. Combination of such methods with DTMs significantly improves glacier hazard assessments. Multitemporal imagery can also be used to derive glacier movement, an important factor of glacier mass-balance and for the growth of ice-contact lakes.

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Submitted: 23 Feb 2005
Revised: 23 May 2005
Accepted: 26 May 2005

Kääb A, C Huggel, S Guex, F Paul, N Salzmann, K Schmutz, D Schneider & Y Weidmann, 2005. Glacier hazard assessment in mountains using satellite optical data. EARSeL eProceedings, 4(1), 79-93


EARSeL European Association of Remote Sensing Laboratories, Strasbourg, France


BIS Library and Information System, Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg


ISSN 1729-3782