Glaciers are retreating and thinning globally, partly in response to natural variability but also due to climate change.
This affects runoff, critical in snow dependent regions, as well as global sea level, with the last of these estimated to contribute 27 ± 22 millimetres to global mean sea-level rise from 1961 to 2016. Glaciers in the European Alps rapidly respond to climatic forcing and lose mass with a temporal lag of 50±28 years, controlled by slope, elevation range and mass balance gradient rather than size.
While continued monitoring of Alpine glaciers for area is conducted by national and supranational agencies, there is a need to monitor more than just area, to understand their state, and also the stability of the areas that they occupied.
The Alps Glaciers (Glacier Science in the Alps) activity is part of the science activities of the first phase of ESA Alpine Regional Initiative undertaken within the Scientific Data Exploitation element of the Earth Observation Envelope Programme (EOEP-5).
The objective here is to maximise the scientific return of the investments in EO by exploiting the availability of products from ESA and EC specifically from the European Sentinel fleet of satellites, here Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2, to provide:
– enhanced observation capacity for glaciers in the Alps beyond area to glacier velocity and end of season snow cover on a weekly/annual basis;
– a scientifically sound assessment of hazard state as a direct function of glacier change, specifically, lake size and slope movement around glaciers.
Learn more about this Invitation To Tender on the EMITS page.
Featured image : Ötztal Alps in the western Austrian state of Tyrol, as seen from Copernicus Sentinel-2A. © contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2016), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO