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Challenges and recommendations in mapping of glacier parameters from space: results of the 2008 Global Land Ice Measurements from Space (GLIMS) workshop, Boulder, Colorado, USA

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On 16–18 June 2008 the US National Snow and Ice Data Center held a GLIMS workshop in Boulder, CO, USA, focusing on formulating procedures and best practices for operational glacier mapping using satellite imagery. Despite the progress made in recent years, there still remain many cases where automatic delineation of glacier boundaries in satellite imagery is difficult, error prone or time-consuming. This workshop identified six themes for consideration by focus groups: (1) mapping clean ice and lakes; (2) mapping ice divides; (3) mapping debris-covered glaciers; (4) assessing changes in glacier area and elevation through comparisons with older data; (5) digital elevation model (DEM) generation from satellite stereo pairs; and (6) accuracy and error analysis. Talks presented examples and work in progress for each of these topics, and focus groups worked on compiling a summary of available algorithms and procedures to address and avoid identified hurdles. Special emphasis was given to establishing standard protocols for glacier delineation and analysis, creating illustrated tutorials and providing source code for available methods. This paper summarizes the major results of the 2008 GLIMS workshop, with an emphasis on definitions, methods and recommendations for satellite data processing. While the list of proposed methods and recommendations is not comprehensive and is still a work in progress, our goal here is to provide a starting point for the GLIMS regional centers as well as for the wider glaciological community in terms of documentation on possible pitfalls along with potential solutions.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: February 1, 2010

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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