Glacier dynamic ice loss quantified through seismic eyes (CalvingSEIS)

Glaciers and ice caps loose mass through calving, and knowledge of these processes is important to measure transfer of mass to the oceans. The aim of the CalvingSEIS is to produce high temporal resolution, continuous calving records for the glaciers in Kongsfjord, Svalbard, and in particular for the Kronebreen glacier laboratory. Through innovative, multi-disciplinary monitoring techniques combining fields of seismology and bioacoustics, individual calving events will be detected and located autonomously methods to quantify calving ice volumes directly from the seismic and acoustic signals will be developed.

Kronebreen: The SEISMOGLAC team on expedition to Kronebreen in Svalbard in 2013. Photo: Andreas Köhler

Svalbard: The SEISMOGLAC team on expedition to Kronebreen in Svalbard in 2013. Photo: Andreas Köhler

About the project

About 40% of global glaciers and ice caps (excluding Greenland and Antarctica) loose mass through iceberg calving, while current models (e.g. in the IPCC) are currently not equipped to realistically predict dynamic ice loss, mainly because long-term continuous calving records are inexistent. Combined seismic/acoustic strategies are the only technique able to capture rapid calving events, continuously, and back through time over decades.

CalvingSEIS will focus on the glaciers in Kongsfjord, Svalbard because the research village of Ny Ålesund houses a passive seismic instrument since 1994 and is only 15 km from one of the fastest flowing and most heavily studied glaciers in Svalbard, Kronebreen. Through innovative, multi-disciplinary monitoring techniques combining fields of seismology and bioacoustics, individual calving events will be detected and located autonomously.

CalvingSEIS will generate a catalogue of calving events using state-of-the-art terrestrial remote sensing techniques to measure calving ice volumes, velocities, and ice-ocean interactions. This forms the basis for scaling the calving record to mass loss and will invoke process-based understanding at the transition zone between glacier and ocean. Underwater bio-acoustic sensors will collect not only glacier sounds, but record the entire fjord soundscape instigating studies between biotic, abiotic and anthropogenic components; e.g. marine animal interaction with glacier sounds from calving and melting. The dynamic ice loss timeseries can reveal fine scale processes and key climatic-dynamic feedbacks between glacier calving, climate history, topographic setting, terminus evolution and fjord conditions and form an unprecedented dataset for developing, calibrating and validating glacier dynamic models.

Objectives

The vision of CalvingSEIS is to produce unprecedented high temporal resolution calving fluxes, autonomously and continuously, to gain deeper insight into rapid calving processes and feedbacks related to glaciological, meteorological and oceanographic parameters that have so far gone undetected due to inexistent data. The produced calving histories will then form an integral base to equip glacier models with realistic calving parameterizations important for accurate future predictions.

Our specific objective is to estimate dynamic ice loss at Kronebreen (and other glaciers in Kongsfjord) from existing and newly acquired, local and regional seismic data. There are no other techniques available that are able to continuously detect calving events through seasons and years and thus development of such methods and applications will provide knowledge enhancement locally in terms of detailed processes understanding of the climatic-dynamic feedbacks that dictate a tidewater glacier’s health.

Outcomes

The project started in 2015, and has come to short to carry some results yet.

This project is a based on a completed project Seismic Monitoring of Glacier Activity on Svalbard - SEISMOGLAC, a project at Department of Geosciences - UiO, see outcomes from this project.

Background

This project follows the recently completed SEISMOGLAC project which tested the feasibility to continuously monitor calving from passive seismic instrumentation.

Cooperation

This project has several partners, and is carried out in cooperation with:

Financing

This project is funded through the Norwegian Research Council KLIMAFORSK program (FRIKLIM), project number NFR no 244196/E10.

Published Nov. 10, 2015 1:58 PM - Last modified June 21, 2017 12:38 PM

Contact

Christopher Nuth, Postdoctoral Fellow / Project leader