Interannual surface evolution of an Antarctic blue-ice moraine using multi-temporal DEMs
Abstract. Multi-temporal and fine-resolution topographic data products are increasingly used to quantify surface elevation change in glacial environments. In this study, we employ 3-D digital elevation model (DEM) differencing to quantify the topographic evolution of a blue-ice moraine complex in front of Patriot Hills, Heritage Range, Antarctica. Terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) was used to acquire multiple topographic datasets of the moraine surface at the beginning and end of the austral summer season in 2012/2013 and during a resurvey field campaign in 2014. A complementary topographic dataset was acquired at the end of season 1 through the application of structure from motion with multi-view stereo (SfM-MVS) photogrammetry to a set of aerial photographs acquired from an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Three-dimensional cloud-to-cloud differencing was undertaken using the Multiscale Model to Model Cloud Comparison (M3C2) algorithm. DEM differencing revealed net uplift and lateral movement of the moraine crests within season 1 (mean uplift ~ 0.10 m) and surface lowering of a similar magnitude in some inter-moraine depressions and close to the current ice margin, although we are unable to validate the latter. Our results indicate net uplift across the site between seasons 1 and 2 (mean 0.07 m). This research demonstrates that it is possible to detect dynamic surface topographical change across glacial moraines over short (annual to intra-annual) timescales through the acquisition and differencing of fine-resolution topographic datasets. Such data offer new opportunities to understand the process linkages between surface ablation, ice flow and debris supply within moraine ice.