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Perspectives on the production of a glacier inventory from multispectral satellite data in Arctic Canada: Cumberland Peninsula, Baffin Island

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The consequences of global warming on land ice masses are difficult to assess in detail, as two-dimensional glacier inventory data are still missing for many remote regions of the world. As the largest future temperature increase is expected to occur at high latitudes, the glaciers and ice caps in the Arctic will be particularly susceptible to the expected warming. This study demonstrates the possibilities of space-borne glacier inventorying at a remote site on Cumberland Peninsula, a part of Baffin Island in Arctic Canada, thereby providing glacier inventory data for this region. Our approach combines Landsat ETM+ and Terra ASTER satellite data, an ASTER-derived digital elevation model (DEM) and Geographic Information System-based processing. We used thresholded ratio images from ETM+ bands 3 and 5 and ASTER bands 3 and 4 for glacier mapping. Manual delineation of Little Ice Age trimlines and moraines has been applied to calculate area changes for 225 glaciers, yielding an average area loss of 11%. A size distribution has been obtained for 770 glaciers that is very different from that for Alpine glaciers. Numerous three-dimensional glacier parameters were derived from the ASTER DEM for a subset of 340 glaciers. The amount of working time required for the processing has been tracked, and resulted in 5 min per glacier, or 7 years for all estimated 160 000 glaciers worldwide.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: August 1, 2005

More about this publication?
  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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