Analysis of the Temporal Evolution of Ice Aprons in the Mont-Blanc Massif Using X and C-Band SAR Images

Kaushik, Suvrat ; Cerino, Bastien ; Trouve, Emmanuel ; Karbou, Fatima ; Yan, Yajing ; Ravanel, Ludovic ; Magnin, Florence

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<p align=justify>This paper investigates the backscatter evolution and surface changes of ice aprons (IAs) by exploiting time series of X- and C-band SAR images from PAZ and Sentinel-1 satellites. IAs are extremely small ice bodies of irregular shape present on steep slopes and complex topographies in all the major high-Alpine environments of the world. Due to their small size and locations in complex topographies, they have been very poorly studied, and very limited information is known about their evolution and responses to climate change. SAR datasets can provide handy information about the seasonal behaviour of IAs since physical changes of IA surfaces modify the backscattering of RaDAR waves. The analysis of the temporal variations of the backscatter coefficient illustrates the effects of increasing temperatures on the surface of the IAs. All IAs considered in the analysis show a strong decrease in backscatter coefficient values in the summer months. The backscattering patterns are also supported by the annual evolution of the coefficient of variation, which is an appropriate indicator to evaluate the heterogeneity of the surface. Higher mean backscatter values in the X-band than in the C-band indicate surface scattering phenomena dominate the IAs. These features could provide key information for classifying IAs using SAR images in future research.</p>
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