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Glacier Remote Sensing Using Sentinel-2. Part II: Mapping Glacier Extents and Surface Facies, and Comparison to Landsat 8

Mapping of glacier extents from automated classification of optical satellite images has become a major application of the freely available images from Landsat. A widely applied method is based on segmented ratio images from a red and shortwave infrared band. With the now available data from Sentinel-2 (S2) and Landsat 8 (L8) there is high potential to further extend the existing time series (starting with Landsat 4/5 in 1982) and to considerably improve over previous capabilities, thanks to increased spatial resolution and dynamic range, a wider swath width and more frequent coverage. Here, we test and compare a variety of previously used methods to map glacier extents from S2 and L8, and investigate the mapping of snow facies with S2 using top of atmosphere reflectance. Our results confirm that the band ratio method works well with S2 and L8. The 15 m panchromatic band of L8 can be used instead of the red band, resulting in glacier extents similar to S2 (0.7% larger for 155 glaciers). On the other hand, extents derived from the 30 m bands are 4%–5% larger, indicating a more generous interpretation of mixed pixels. Mapping of snow cover with S2 provided accurate results, but the required topographic correction would benefit from a better orthorectification with a more precise DEM than currently used.

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Field Value
Author(s) Frank Paul, Solveig H. Winsvold, Andreas Kääb, Thomas Nagler and Gabriele Schwaizer
Last Updated February 11, 2021, 21:56 (UTC)
Created December 8, 2020, 05:04 (UTC)
Stable Link
Date 2016-07-07
Publishing Body Remote Sensing 8.7 (2016): 575.
Content Type Publications
Primary Category Environment
Sub Category Inland Water
Country Name China
Location-Region/City Kunlun Mountains
Location Latitude 36.0
Location Longitude 84.0
Publishing Organization New Light Technologies