Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2016

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Mark Serreze

Second Advisor

Chris McNeil


Glacier mass balance is of increasing concern due to climate change, and for this reason it is important to determine and refine the best methodology for obtaining mass balance data. The present study compares the use of in situ field measurements with gravimetric mass measurements obtained by the satellite GRACE. Field mass balance data from both the Taku and Lemon Creek glaciers in southeast Alaska was compared to GRACE data for the years 2003­2014, and a linear regression analysis was performed to determine the correlation between these two data types. GRACE and field data show similar long term trends, however year to year mass variations are quite different between the two data sets. The correlation between the mass balance estimates from GRACE and field measurement is stronger for Taku glacier and somewhat weaker for Lemon Glacier, which is most likely due to the issues of scale and signal leakage. The results suggest that GRACE is better suited for looking at large ice caps and ice sheets rather than individual glaciers.

Included in

Glaciology Commons