Antarctic supraglacial lake detection using landsat 8 and sentinel-2 imagery: Towards continental generation of lake volumes

Mahsa Moussavi, Allen Pope, Anna Ruth W. Halberstadt, Luke D. Trusel, Leanne Cioffi, Waleed Abdalat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Melt and supraglacial lakes are precursors to ice shelf collapse and subsequent accelerated ice sheet mass loss. We used data from the Landsat 8 and Sentinel-2 satellites to develop a threshold-based method for detection of lakes found on the Antarctic ice shelves, calculate their depths and thus their volumes. To achieve this, we focus on four key areas: the Amery, Roi Baudouin, Nivlisen, and Riiser-Larsen ice shelves, which are all characterized by extensive surface meltwater features. To validate our products, we compare our results against those obtained by an independent method based on a supervised classification scheme (e.g., Random Forest algorithm). Additional verification is provided by manual inspection of results for nearly 1000 Landsat 8 and Sentinel-2 images. Our dual-sensor approach will enable constructing high-resolution time series of lake volumes. Therefore, to ensure interoperability between the two datasets, we evaluate depths from contemporaneous Landsat 8 and Sentinel-2 image pairs. Our assessments point to a high degree of correspondence, producing an average R2 value of 0.85, no bias, and an average RMSE of 0.2 m. We demonstrate our method's ability to characterize lake evolution by presenting first evidence of drainage events outside of the Antarctic Peninsula on the Amery Ice shelf. The methods presented here pave the way to upscaling throughout the Landsat 8 and Sentinel-2 observational record across Antarctica to produce a first-ever continental dataset of supraglacial lake volumes. Such a dataset will improve our understanding of the influence of surface hydrology on ice shelf stability, and thus, future projections of Antarctica's contribution to sea level rise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number134
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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