Multi-faceted Approach to Studying Glacier Mass Change in the Columbia and Rocky Mountains
Ben M. Pelto, University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC)
Glaciers in the Canadian Columbia River Basin are in a state of retreat in response to climate change. Regionally, sparse data limits our ability to understand and quantify present and future changes to the alpine cryosphere.
We collected seasonal glaciological field data and conducted airborne light detection and ranging (LiDAR) surveys over a series of 80 glaciers and six alpine catchments across the Columbia and Rocky Mountains. These data allow us to quantify the individual components of seasonal mass change: winter snow accumulation and summer snow and ice ablation.
Our data consists of measurements of glaciological mass balance, glacier ice thickness from ground penetrating radar surveys, ice velocity, and LiDAR DEMs from our bi-annual LiDAR surveys. In tandem with our DEMs and ice velocity measurements, our ice thickness observations allow us to resolve glacier ice dynamics, critical to modeling future glacier response to climate change.
We present maps visualizing snow accumulation, glacier mass loss, ice velocity, and ice thickness to highlight our multi-faceted approach to study glacier change. We demonstrate how these disparate, in-situ and remote sensing measurements can be combined to assess the current response of glaciers in the Canadian Columbia River Basin to climate change.