In polar regions, glacier retreat is a crucial parameter in environmental studies since new ice free areas are formed that enable colonisation and the development of new communities. Moreover, this can also affect the aquatic systems and is regarded as an indicator of climate change.
The main objectives of this study are the quantification of hydrological and geophysical processes of Potter Cove Glacier, its energy and water exchange with the atmospheric boundary layer as well as melt water production and glacier mass balance under the impact of climatic change.
We will start an extensive field programme on Potter Glacier in November this year in addition to previous observations on Bellingshausen Dome and the main ice cap of King George Island. The observations on Potter glacier shall be run over three years and comprise the installation of automated micrometeorological and photogrammetric measurements including direct measurements of surface energy fluxes on the glacier. Additionally snow courses and mass balance stakes will be placed on the glacier and differential GPS measurements will be performed regularly.
The measurements and historic climate data records will form the base for glacier mass balance and melt modelling. TerraSAR-X satellite data will be used to map glacier retreat, i.e. changes in glacier extent and snow covered areas. The remote sensing data serves as a platform to spatially validate the glacier melt modelling. Different weather patterns will be analyzed with regard to their impact on glacier melt rates. The snow courses and modelling activities shall cover Potter Peninsula in order to link them to the hydrological and sedimentological measurements and other research work.