EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Expanding glacier time series of Antarctica and Greenland using Soviet Era KFA-1000 satellite images

Flora Huiban1, Mads Dømgaard1, Luc Girod2, Romain Millan1,3, Amaury Dehecq3, Jeremie Mouginot3, Anders Schomacker4, Eric Rignot5, and Anders Bjørk1
Flora Huiban et al.
  • 1Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark (
  • 2Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  • 3Institute of Environmental Geosciences, University of Grenoble Alpes, Grenoble, France
  • 4Department of Geosciences, UiT the Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway
  • 5Department of Earth System Science, University of California Irvine, Irvine, United States

Long-term records of glaciers are more than ever crucial to understand their response to climate change. High-quality photogrammetric products, Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) and orthophotographs from early satellites are essential, as they offer a unique high-resolution view on the historical glacial dynamics. However, obtaining and producing high-resolution datasets from historical imagery can be a challenge.

In our study, we are extending available satellite images time series using images from Soviet Era KFA-1000 satellite cameras. Each KFA-1000 has a 1000 mm objective, holding 1800 frames in its magazine. Each frame is typically 18x18 cm or 30 × 30 cm, with an 80 km swath width, providing panchromatic images. They supplement the very sparse data period between aerial images and high-resolution modern satellites, giving us high-resolution insight of Antarctica and Greenland dating from 1974 to 1994. Since these images have been largely underused, they have the potential to improve our knowledge of glaciers and open new scientific perspectives. They could help us improve models in studies regarding, for instance the frontal position, the flow-velocity (by doing feature tracking), the surface elevation or the grounding line of the glaciers, etc. With a spatial resolution up to 2 m and images recorded in stereo geometry, they offer a valuable complement to other historical satellite archives such as the declassified American KH imagery. Here, we use structure-from-motion (SfM) to reconstruct former glacier surfaces and flow of main outlet glaciers in both Antarctica and Greenland. We compare and assess the quality of the results by comparing the produced DEMs with recent high-resolution imagery from Worldview’s ArcticDEM. We combine the historical DEMs with recent satellite imagery of the ice elevation and reconstruct the comprehensive history of volume change over southeast and northeast Greenland glaciers since the 90s. Mostly lost from sight for 50 years, we are now resurrecting these highly valuable records and will make them freely available to science and the public.


How to cite: Huiban, F., Dømgaard, M., Girod, L., Millan, R., Dehecq, A., Mouginot, J., Schomacker, A., Rignot, E., and Bjørk, A.: Expanding glacier time series of Antarctica and Greenland using Soviet Era KFA-1000 satellite images, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-7374,, 2022.


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