Development of a procedure to determine the suitability of mountain glaciers for ice core drilling by indicators derived from multisource remote sensing and morphometric variables.


The suitability of mountain glaciers for ice core drilling is herewith defined as the probability to drill a mountain glacier to retrieve an ice core with preserved stratigraphic information.


To map the suitable areas of mountain glaciers for ice core drilling based on morphometric and climatic variables.

Specific objectives:
  1. To develop a method supporting the selection of drilling site using both a data- and knowledge- driven approach.
  1. Exploiting the experts knowledge to define the relative importance of different variables.


Variables in table below were created in GIS environment from ASTER-GDEM Global Elevation Model (30 meters of spatial resolution; vertical accuracy 15-30 meters, [1]) and from WorldClim global climate data set (1 km of spatial resolution, [2]).

These are the main variables from which depends the suitability for ice core drilling of mountain glacier. They were chosen considering the available drilled sites present in the IDB Ice core database (NextData project, [3]).

Slope Degrees of inclination of the surface from the horizontal. [degree]
Local relief Difference in elevation between the highest and lowest points of land surface occurring within an area of 300x300 meters). [meters]
Direct solar radiation Solar direct beam radiation, calculated integrating data for a given day (August 15), latitude, surface and atmospheric conditions also considering shadowing effect. [W/(m2day)]
Mean temperature of warmest quarter Mean temperature calculated for the warmest period of three months (1/4 of the year). [░C]


To define the importance of each variable in the choice of a drilling site, we kindly ask you to rate the relative importance of the four variables described above. The evaluation is done by means of pairwise comparisons between each pair of variables. (Method based on Analytic Hierarchy Process: AHP, pair-wise comparisons, [4])

Please compare the importance of the variables in relation to the objectives. For each row of the AHP table, you are asked two questions:

  1. Which variable of each pair is more important in the choice of a drilling site?
  1. How much is it more important? (Use the scale 1-9 as given in the table below).


Variables comparison Which is more important? How much is it more important?
Slope vs Local relief
Slope vs Direct solar radiation
Slope vs Mean temperature of warmest quarter
Local relief vs Direct solar radiation
Local relief vs Mean temperature of warmest quarter
Direct solar radiation vs Mean temperature of warmest quarter
In your opinion which other variables are important in the choice of a drilling site?


[1] Toutin T., 2008. ASTER DEMs for geomatic and geoscientific applications: a review. International Journal of Remote Sensing archive, Vol 29, Issue 7, Pages 1855-1875.

[2] Hijmans R. J., Cameron S.E., Parra J. L., Jones P. G., Jarvis A., 2005.áVery high resolution interpolated climate surfaces for global land areas. International Journal of Climatology 25: 1965-1978.

[3] De Amicis M., Frigerio I., Strigaro D., Mattavelli M., Garzonio R., Castellano L., 2013. WP.2.3 Archive of data from non polar ice cores. Scientific Report for the reference period 01-01-2013/31-12-2013.

[4] Saaty T. L., 2008. Decision making with the analytic hierarchy process. Int. J. Services Sciences, Vol. 1, No. 1.