EGU24-10069, updated on 08 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Monitoring an ice-dammed lake outburst using topographic data at Kongsvegen, Svalbard 

Livia Piermattei1,2, Andreas Alexander3,4,5, Simon Filhol2, Ugo Nanni2, Pierre-Marie Lefeuvre6, Jack Kohler6, Désirée Treichler2, Claire S. Earlie7, Louise S. Schmidt2, and Thomas V. Schuler2
Livia Piermattei et al.
  • 1Department of Geography, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland (
  • 2Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  • 3Department of Earth Sciences, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
  • 4Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway
  • 5Centre for Biorobotics, Tallinn University of Technology, Tallinn, Estonia
  • 6Norwegian Polar Institute, Fram Centre, Tromsø, Norway
  • 7Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, US

Glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) from ice-dammed lakes are frequent in Svalbard, impacting local ice dynamics, and subglacial hydrological systems, causing geomorphological changes, and posing flooding hazards. Additionally, GLOFs can influence nutrient dynamics in the fjord of tidewater glaciers, affecting the local ecosystem.

In this study, we use high-resolution topographic data to monitor the formation of an ice-dammed lake and identify the drainage mechanisms of a GLOF that occurred in the summer of 2021 on the Kongsvegen glacier, a surge-type tidewater glacier located in Kongsfjorden (Svalbard). Additionally, seismometers were deployed to monitor the subglacial dynamics at the kilometre scale.

Over the 2.5-month-long process starting in early June, terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) data and drone images were acquired at nearly daily intervals to monitor the ice-dammed lake formation and drainage. A time-lapse camera and pressure logger installed at the border of the ice-dammed lake allowed us to estimate the drainage timing, occurring from July 23 to July 26, resulting in a total drainage duration of 77 hours. To reconstruct the lake volume, the lake extension was manually digitized from the TLS data and drone orthophotos. Elevation information of the corresponding lake outlines was extracted from a 1 m resolution Digital Elevation Model (DEM) generated from Pléiades stereo satellite images acquired on 20 September 2020, at the end of the thaw season. This DEM serves as bathymetric data, representing the lake bottom. The extracted water level was used to calculate the stage-volume curve. The lake's maximum volume reached approximately 7.17 million m3 with an average discharge rate of 26 m3/s. Analyzing seismic data allowed for monitoring of the development of the subglacial drainage, assessing the transition from an inefficient to an efficient system.

This study highlights the importance of very high spatial and temporal resolution data for accurate lake volume quantification and a better understanding of the link between GLOF and subglacial system.

How to cite: Piermattei, L., Alexander, A., Filhol, S., Nanni, U., Lefeuvre, P.-M., Kohler, J., Treichler, D., Earlie, C. S., Schmidt, L. S., and Schuler, T. V.: Monitoring an ice-dammed lake outburst using topographic data at Kongsvegen, Svalbard , EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-10069,, 2024.