Journal cover Journal topic
Earth System Science Data The Data Publishing Journal
https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2017-75
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
 
04 Aug 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth System Science Data (ESSD).
Historical glacier outlines from digitized topographic maps of the Swiss Alps
Daphné Freudiger1, David Mennekes1, Jan Seibert2, and Markus Weiler1 1Chair of Hydrology, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, 79098, Germany
2Hydrology and Climate Unit, Department of Geography, university of Zurich, Zurich, 8057, Switzerland
Abstract. Since the end of the Little Ice Age around 1850, the total glacier area of the Central European Alps has considerably decreased. In order to understand the changes in glacier coverage at various scales and to model past and future streamflow accurately, long-term and large-scale datasets of glacier outlines are needed. To fill the gap between the morphologically reconstructed glacier outlines from the moraine extent corresponding to the time period around 1850 and the first complete dataset of glacier areas in the Swiss Alps from aerial photographs in 1973, glacier area from 80 sheets of a historical topographic map, so-called Siegfried map, were manually digitized for the publication years 1878–1918 (further called first period, with most sheets being published around 1900) and 1917–1944 (further called second period, with most sheets being published around 1935). The accuracy of the digitized glacier areas was then assessed through a two-step validation process: the data was (1) visually and (2) quantitatively compared to glacier area datasets of the years 1850, 1973, 2003, and 2010, which were derived from different sources. The validation showed that at least 70 % of the digitized glaciers were comparable to the outlines from the other datasets and were therefore plausible. Furthermore, the accuracy of the manual digitization was found to be lower than 5 %. The presented datasets of glacier outlines for the first and second periods were found to be valuable source of information for long-term glacier mass balance or hydrological modelling in glacierized basins if the uncertainty of the historical topographic maps is considered in the interpretation of the results. The datasets can be downloaded from the FreiDok plus data repository (https://freidok.uni-freiburg.de/data/12874, https://doi.org/10.6094/UNIFR/12874).

Citation: Freudiger, D., Mennekes, D., Seibert, J., and Weiler, M.: Historical glacier outlines from digitized topographic maps of the Swiss Alps, Earth Syst. Sci. Data Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2017-75, in review, 2017.
Daphné Freudiger et al.
Daphné Freudiger et al.

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Historical glacier outlines from digitized topographic maps of the Swiss Alps for the years ca. 1900 and ca. 1935
D. Freudiger, D. Mennekes, J. Seibert, and M. Weiler
https://doi.org/10.6094/UNIFR/12874
Daphné Freudiger et al.

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Short summary
Swiss glaciers have considerably decreased since 1850. To understand glacier area changes at the large scale, all available data should be used. To fill the gap between the datasets of reconstructed (ca. 1850) and first observed (1973) glacier outlines for the entire Swiss Alps, we manually digitzed all glacier areas from topographic historical maps of Switzerland for the time periods ca. 1900 and ca. 1935. The presented datasets found to be valuable source of information for glacier studies.
Swiss glaciers have considerably decreased since 1850. To understand glacier area changes at the...
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