Glaciological Studies at Pasterze Glacier (Austria) Based on Aerial Photographs

  • Viktor Kaufmann
  • Andreas Kellerer-Pirklbauer
  • Gerhard Karl Lieb
  • Heinz Slupetzky
  • Michael Avian
Part of the Springer Remote Sensing/Photogrammetry book series (SPRINGERREMO)


This chapter describes and analyses glacier recession observed at Pasterze Glacier, Hohe Tauern Range, Austria, for the time period 2003–2009. Pasterze Glacier is the largest glacier of the entire Eastern Alps, and it is highly indicative of ongoing glacier melt in the Alps. We evaluated three glacier stages (2003, 2006 and 2009) and the glaciological changes between them. The quantitative analysis is based on aerial surveys carried out during the summer of these years. The photogrammetric workflow provided high resolution datasets, such as digital elevation models and orthophotos of each stage. We evaluated the extent, surface elevation, flow velocity field, supraglacial debris cover, and geomorphological changes at the glacier surface and the adjacent paraglacial environment. The main numerical results can be summarized as follows: the glacier covered 17.3 ± 0.1 km2 in 2009, the mean surface elevation change was −1.31 ± 0.07 m a−1 for the period 2003–2009, the glacier surface flow velocity in two test areas at the glacier tongue decelerated from 2003–2006 to 2006–2009 (−4 % and −31 %), and the debris cover of the glacier tongue increased from 63 % (2003) to 72 % (2009). We conclude that Pasterze Glacier is far from equilibrium and that its glacier tongue will turn into a large dead ice body in the near future.


Pasterze Glacier Glacier change Glacier recession Photogrammetric mapping Geomorphological mapping 



The aerial photographs of 2003 were made available by Heinz Slupetzky and the Hydrological Service of the Regional Government of Salzburg. Photogrammetric work was financially supported by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research and the Salzburg Hydrological Service. The aerial photographs of 2009 were provided free of charge by the Department of Geoinformation of the Regional Government of Tyrol (TIRIS). Field campaigns at Pasterze Glacier were supported by the project ‘ALPCHANGE – Climate change and impacts in southern Austrian alpine regions’ funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) through project FWF P18304-N10 and by the Austrian Alpine Club (OeAV) within the framework of the annual glaciological surveys. VERBUND-Austrian Hydro Power provided meteorological data from the automatic weather station AWS-MA. An anonymous reviewer is very much thanked for his constructive criticism on an earlier version of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Viktor Kaufmann
    • 1
  • Andreas Kellerer-Pirklbauer
    • 2
  • Gerhard Karl Lieb
    • 2
  • Heinz Slupetzky
    • 3
  • Michael Avian
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute of Remote Sensing and PhotogrammetryGraz University of TechnologyGrazAustria
  2. 2.Department of Geography and Regional ScienceUniversity of GrazGrazAustria
  3. 3.Department of Geography and GeologyUniversity of SalzburgBergheimAustria
  4. 4.Institute of Earth SciencesUniversity of GrazGrazAustria

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