Photogrammetrically Derived Estimates of Glacier Mass Loss in the Upper Susitna Drainage Basin, Alaska Range, Alaska

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Gabriel J Wolken1, Erin Whorton1 and Nathaniel Murphy2, (1)Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys, Fairbanks, AK, United States, (2)University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK, United States
Glaciers in Alaska are currently experiencing some of the highest rates of mass loss on Earth, with mass wastage rates accelerating during the last several decades. Glaciers, and other components of the hydrologic cycle, are expected to continue to change in response to anticipated future atmospheric warming, thus, affecting the quantity and timing of river runoff. This study uses sequential digital elevation model (DEM) analysis to estimate the mass loss of glaciers in the upper Susitna drainage basin, Alaska Range, for the purpose of validating model simulations of past runoff changes. We use mainly stereo optical airborne and satellite data for several epochs between 1949 and 2014, and employ traditional stereo-photogrammetric and structure from motion processing techniques to derive DEMs of the upper Susitna basin glaciers. This work aims to improve the record of glacier change in the central Alaska Range, and serves as a critical validation dataset for a hydrological model that simulates the potential effects of future glacier mass loss on changes in river runoff over the lifespan of the proposed Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project.