Testing the performance of ice thickness models to estimate the formation of potential future glacial lakes in Austria

Jan Christoph Otto, Kay Helfricht, Günther Prasicek, Daniel Binder, Markus Keuschnig

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftArtikelForskningpeer review

6 Citationer (Scopus)


The emergence of glacial lakes is a significant consequence of global climate change in high mountain regions. Recent developments in ice thickness modelling combined with high-resolution glacier surface data led to the generation of modelling approaches to simulate the ice-free bedrock topography below current glaciers and to detect potential glacier bed overdeepenings (GBO) that may form into future lakes. We simulated the subglacial topography in the Austrian Alps using two different ice thickness models. Glaciers in the study area differ significantly from glaciers investigated in previous studies on potential future lakes because of their in general small size and location often restricted to cirques. The aim of this study is to estimate the number and location of potential future lakes in Austria. We tested the performance of ice thickness models for modelling of potential future lakes in an environment dominated by mountain glaciers that are under high stress of climate change. Modelling results are compared with lakes that evolved since the modelling periods and with data on subglacial topography derived from geophysical surveys. Results show significant differences in model performance concerning the total ice volume and the number of simulated GBOs. The number and total area of the modelled GBOs is overestimated, compared with the number of lakes that have evolved in the past. Most GBOs are simulated for valley type glaciers, even though most glaciers are mountain types. This does not match with the location of existing glacial lakes that are dominantly found in cirques. We ascertain that this modelling approach performs better on large valley type glaciers and less well on mountain glaciers. Intersecting the modelling runs indicates that up to 42 new lakes may form within 23 glaciers in Austria covering a total area of 2 km2.

Sider (fra-til)723-741
Antal sider19
TidsskriftEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Udgave nummer3
StatusUdgivet - 15 mar. 2022


  • Programområde 5: Natur og klima


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