The Triglav Glacier (South-Eastern Alps, Slovenia): Volume Estimation, Internal Characterization and 2000–2013 Temporal Evolution by Means of Ground Penetrating Radar Measurements

Abstract

It is well known that small glaciers of mid latitudes and especially those located at low altitude respond suddenly to climate changes both on local and global scale. For this reason their monitoring as well as evaluation of their extension and volume is essential. We present a ground penetrating radar (GPR) dataset acquired on September 23 and 24, 2013 on the Triglav glacier to identify layers with different characteristics (snow, firn, ice, debris) within the glacier and to define the extension and volume of the actual ice. Computing integrated and interpolated 3D using the whole GPR dataset, we estimate that at the moment of data acquisition the ice area was 3800 m2 and the ice volume 7400 m3. Its average thickness was 1.95 m while its maximum thickness was slightly more than 5 m. Here we compare the results with a previous GPR survey acquired in 2000. A critical review of the historical data to find the general trend and to forecast a possible evolution is also presented. Between 2000 and 2013, we observed relevant changes in the internal distribution of the different units (snow, firn, ice) and the ice volume reduced from about 35,000 m3 to about 7400 m3. Such result can be achieved only using multiple GPR surveys, which allow not only to assess the volume occupied by a glacial body, but also to image its internal structure and the actual ice volume. In fact, by applying one of the widely used empirical volume-area relations to infer the geometrical parameters of the glacier, a relevant underestimation of ice-loss would be achieved.

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Acknowledgments

This research was funded by the “Finanziamento di Ateneo per progetti di ricerca scientifica—FRA 2012 and 2014” of the University of Trieste and by research Program No. P6-0101 of the Slovenian Research Agency. We gratefully acknowledge Halliburton and Schlumberger through the University of Trieste academic grants, respectively, for SeisSpace ProMax and Petrel interpretation packages. We also thank the editor in chief Carla Braitenberg, and four anonymous reviewers for their useful suggestions.

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Correspondence to Emanuele Forte.

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Del Gobbo, C., Colucci, R.R., Forte, E. et al. The Triglav Glacier (South-Eastern Alps, Slovenia): Volume Estimation, Internal Characterization and 2000–2013 Temporal Evolution by Means of Ground Penetrating Radar Measurements. Pure Appl. Geophys. 173, 2753–2766 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00024-016-1348-2

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Keywords

  • 3D GPR
  • 4D analysis
  • ice melting
  • time monitoring, climate changes
  • Triglav glacier
  • Slovenia
  • South-eastern Alps