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A new glacier inventory on southern Baffin Island, Canada, from ASTER data: I. Applied methods, challenges and solutions

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The quantitative assessment of glacier changes as well as improved modeling of climate-change impacts on glaciers requires digital vector outlines of individual glacier entities. Unfortunately, such a glacier inventory is still lacking in many remote but extensively glacierized regions such as the Canadian Arctic. Multispectral satellite data in combination with digital elevation models (DEMs) are particularly useful for creating detailed glacier inventory data including topographic information for each entity. In this study, we extracted glacier outlines and a DEM using two adjacent Terra ASTER scenes acquired in August 2000 for a remote region on southern Baffin Island, Canada. Additionally, Little Ice Age (LIA) extents were digitized from trimlines and moraines visible on the ASTER scenes, and Landsat MSS and TM scenes from the years 1975 and 1990 were used to assess changes in glacier length and area. Because automated delineation of glaciers is based on a band in the shortwave infrared, we have developed a new semi-automated glacier-mapping approach for the MSS sensor. Wrongly classified debris-covered glaciers, water bodies and attached snowfields were corrected manually for both ASTER and MSS. Glacier drainage divides were manually digitized by combining visual interpretation with DEM information. In this first paper, we describe the applied methods for glacier mapping and the glaciological challenges encountered (e.g. data voids, snow cover, ice caps, tributaries), while the second paper reports the data analyses and the derived changes.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2010-02-01

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  • 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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