Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Raup, B. 2007 GLIMS: A new tool for Studying glacier Change

Raup, B. A. R., S. Khalsa, C. Helm, R. Armstrong, Y. Arnaud (2007). "The GLIMS geospatial glacier database: A new tool for studying glacier change." Global and Planetary Change 56: 101-110.

The GLIMS geospatial glacier Database: A new tool for studying glacier change.

Raup et al.


-60 institutions world wide with goal to inventory world’s estimated 160,000 glaciers. Each institution is called a regional center. Each center is responsible for a certain subregion.

-“Stewards” are responsible for individual glaciers.

-Researchers from 27 countries.

-Goal is to use multispectral satellite imagery to inventory glaciers and understand change in terms of climate and other env. Forcings.

-Data is received by the Global Land Ice Management from Space (GLIMS) Project team at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder.

-Coordinated by the University of Arizona.

-Main product of project is the Glacier Database which can be accessed online. – Products are in WGS84 Datum.

-If glaciers split there is a field in the database table to show parent glacier as well.

-The GLIMS glacier database is an extention of the World Glacier Inventory (WGI) that is meant to add snapshots over time.

-There are also places in the metadata table for each glacier for error such as absolute and relative.

NSIDC has a great graphical interface (GISMO) for obtaining data but I need to be on Windows to use. Will explore this later. I was able to access the NSIDC glacier viewer though and will look at this further.

Group Abbreviations

-World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) – established in 1986 but since then glaciers became part of the Global Climate Observation System (GCOS) and the Global Hierchical Observation Strategy (GHOST) which are both programs operated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Intergovernmetal Oceanographic Commission (IOC), the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

This paper is about looking at change in the Cordillera Blanca glaciers by comparing GLIMS data to historical data.

-The used an Normalized Difference Snow Index (NDSI) with Spot bands 1 and 4 (green and mid-infrared) for the initial raw ice outline.

-For debris covered ice they manually digitized the outline using a slope map and a color composite of SPOT bands 4, 3 and 2 displayed as red, green, blue respectively. Debris covered ice was spot checked with ground-based photographs when available.

A good way to quantify change would be to emulate the paper and create histogram grid cell elevations for the glacierized regions.
This would show shifts in elevation over the years as well.

-WGMS compiled the World Glacier Inventory – first inventory at a global scale.

It is going to be very important to make sure to only look at glacier change, not snowfield change.

-One of the big issues in the research done in this project was the large variability in the size of the change due to inconsistencies of what a “glacier” was defined as in earlier studies compared to today.

-Researchers are trying to develop automate ways to dilineate glaciers from satellite imagery but this is still in progress. I still don’t see how they can do it with debris covered ice though….

GLIMS hopes to eliminate the inconsistencies of glacier measurements with a set of established standard processing protocols.

Papers to look up

Braithwaite, R.J., 2002. Glacier mass balance: the first 50 years of

international monitoring. Progress in Physical Geography 26 (1),


Haeberli, W., 1998. Historical evolution and operational aspects of

worldwide glacier monitoring. In: Haeberli,W., Hoelzle, M., Suter,

S. (Eds.), Into the Second Century of World Glacier Monitoring–

Prospects and Strategies. UNESCO Publishing, pp. 35–51.

Hall, Dorothy K., Riggs, G.A., Salomonson, V.V., 1995. Development

of methods for mapping global snow cover using moderate

resolution imaging spectroradiometer data. Remote Sensing of

Environment 54 (2), 127–140.

Kieffer, Hugh, et al., 2000. “New Eyes in the Sky Measure Glaciers

and Ice Sheets.” Eos Transactions, American Geophysical Union


Manley,W.F. (in press). “Geospatial inventory and analysis of glaciers:

A Case Study for the Eastern Alaska Range”. Williams Jr., R.S.,

Ferrigno, J.G. (Ed.), Glaciers of Alaska, Satellite Image Atlas of

Glaciers of the World. U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper


Raup, B.H., Kääb, A., Kargel, J.S., Bishop, M.P., Hamilton, G., Lee, E.,

Paul, F., Rau, F., Soltesz, D., Khalsa, S.J.S., Beedle, M., Helm, C.,

in press. “Remote Sensing and GIS Technology in the Global Land

Ice Measurements from Space (GLIMS) Project”. Computers and


Silverio, W., Jaquet, J.M., 2005. Glacial cover mapping (1987–1996)

of the Cordillera Blanca (Peru) using satellite imagery. Remote

Sensing of Environment 95 (3), 342–350.

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