A Reconciled Estimation of the State of Cryospheric Components in the Southern Andes and California Using Geospatial Techniques
AdvisorAmbinakudige, Shrinidhi S.
CommitteeSchmitz, Darrel W.
Glaciers are the essential source of fresh water not only to human sustenance, but it is also vital for all lifeforms on earth. Glaciers are also key components in understanding rapid changes in climate. This makes understanding of glacier mass, extent, and overall state essential. In this dissertation, the objective was to analyze the state of snow and ice masses in the mid (California) and low latitude (Chile/Argentina) western American regions using geospatial technology. This study also analyzed the effects of anomalies in snow mass on the regional agricultural practices in California’s Central Valley. In the Southern Andes, the digital elevation models from Shuttle Radar Topographic Mission (SRTM) (the year 2000) were compared with the elevation footprints from the Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS) campaign for the years 2004 through 2008. Generally, in all sub-regions, the elevation values were lower than the elevation for the year 2000, which demarcates continuous recession of ice mass in the Andean region. Also, this study quantified snow cover extent and mass balance variation in the Sierra Nevada and Mt. Shasta regions in California. To unearth anomalies in snow mass, study used digital elevation models generated from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) between the year 2000 and 2015. A remarkable reduction in snow cover extent of about 80% was observed in the studied watersheds of California. Lastly, the impacts of snow mass anomalies on the total water storage (TWS) and agriculture land cover in the California’s Central Valley were quantified and geo-visualized. The study noticed the change in the land cover area of about 20% (6993 sq.km) due to the alteration of Agriculture land to impervious land covers. Most of the change in the agriculture land cover of about 4402 sq.km occurred in the San Joaquin and Tulare Basins of southern Central Valley region. This dissertation concludes that the increased temperature in the Andes and California has adversely impacted Cryosphere components in the region in the past decade. Besides, it provides valuable insights into the changing state of cryosphere components and highlights impacts of anomalies in TWS on a billion-dollar agricultural industry.