The PRISM 2 project is designed to continue cryospheric studies in a small high-Arctic glacier catchment (Svalbard).
Fast dynamic processes are under way in the area and monitoring, quantifying and explaining these processes, using both classic and innovative instruments, is at the heart of this project.
The project is structured around 2 main work packages.
The purpose of the first package is to consolidate the Austre Lovén glacier basin as a long-term observatory. Such observatories are scarce in the Arctic and the data they provide are therefore all the more valuable. While the first observations in this basin were conducted in the 1960’s, a renewed effort has been undertaken by our team amounting in 2020 to 13 years worth of data published in the WGMS database. This work consists in proceeding to standardized protocols for glacier mass balance measurements, including winter mass balance (snow cover), annual mass balance (ablation stakes), and air temperature measurements. As of today, recurrent measurements led on the glacier are part of the national OZCAR research infrastructure.
The second package focuses on new research questions raised by ongoing processes in a fast deglaciating basin context. Geomorphological evolutions, sediment transfer, snow and water budgets, and plant colonization, in steep slopes and in the moraine, are all markers of the strong trends observed in the field. Monitoring these processes usually requires novel instrumental methods. UAV and Lidar derived high resolution DEMs have already been successfully mobilized in the field. New developments for this project consist in deploying temperature sensors able to communicate through wireless LoRa transceivers. Another approach will be to set up corner reflectors in the field in an attempt to make the most out of readily available spaceborne RADAR data.
Together these 2 packages allow for a precise monitoring and a fine understanding of some of the key parameters that influence this Arctic glacier basin everywhere from the basin slopes, to the glacier, on to the moraine, and all the way into the fjord.