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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 6, issue 2
The Cryosphere, 6, 367-382, 2012
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-6-367-2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
The Cryosphere, 6, 367-382, 2012
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-6-367-2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 30 Mar 2012

Research article | 30 Mar 2012

Thermal remote sensing of ice-debris landforms using ASTER: an example from the Chilean Andes

A. Brenning1, M. A. Peña2, S. Long1, and A. Soliman1 A. Brenning et al.
  • 1Department of Geography and Environmental Management, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, Ontario, N2L 3G1, Canada
  • 2Centro de Estudio de Recursos Naturales Oterra, Universidad Mayor, Camino La Pirámide 5750, Huechuraba, Santiago, Chile

Abstract. Remote sensors face challenges in characterizing mountain permafrost and ground thermal conditions or mapping rock glaciers and debris-covered glaciers. We explore the potential of thermal imaging and in particular thermal inertia mapping in mountain cryospheric research, focusing on the relationships between ground surface temperatures and the presence of ice-debris landforms on one side and land surface temperature (LST) and apparent thermal inertia (ATI) on the other. In our case study we utilize ASTER daytime and nighttime imagery and in-situ measurements of near-surface ground temperature (NSGT) in the Mediterranean Andes during a snow-free and dry observation period in late summer. Spatial patterns of LST and NSGT were mostly consistent with each other both at daytime and at nighttime. Daytime LST over ice-debris landforms was decreased and ATI consequently increased compared to other debris surfaces under otherwise equal conditions, but NSGT showed contradictory results, which underlines the complexity and possible scale dependence of ATI in heterogeneous substrates with the presence of a thermal mismatch and a heat sink at depth. While our results demonstrate the utility of thermal imaging and ATI mapping in a mountain cryospheric context, further research is needed for a better interpretation of ATI patterns in complex thermophysical conditions.

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