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Melting of italian glaciers: analysis of the phenomenon in GIS environment

Vaccaro Danilo Federici Bianca Ferrando Ilaria
Articolo Immagine
GEAM N. 162/2021

Articolo Open Access


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Italian glaciers began to melt in the second half of the 19th century. The quantification of melting over time has been described in Glaciers Inventories. The present research aims to contribute to the understanding of the dynamics governing glacier melting as a function of different glacier types and geomorphological parameters analysed in GIS environment. The extent variation of 13 Italian glaciers from 1958 was evaluated by means of automatic classification of aerial images in the Free and Open-Source software GRASS GIS. On-site inspections were carried out too, to identify portions of the glaciers not identifiable by image classification, as well as any peculiarities and boundary conditions. Moreover, the influence of geomorphological parameters and boundary conditions were investigated, extending the analysis to 15 additional glaciers. The results showed that glaciers have undergone different area reductions, which can be correlated with different geographical and geomorphological features. A higher tendency to melt was found in those glacial masses that had an initial size less than 1 km2, located in the western sector of the Alps, at medium-low altitudes and facing south. Moreover, the lack of feeding from the surrounding slopes and from glacial masses located at higher altitudes, the lack of snow cover or thick debris during the summer season and a dark geological bedrock increase the phenomenon.

Keywords: glaciers, melting, GIS GRASS, image classification.