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An inventory and morphometric analysis of British Columbia glaciers, Canada

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We describe an automated method to generate an inventory of glaciers and glacier morphometry from a digital topographic database containing glacier boundaries and a digital elevation model for British Columbia, Canada. The inventory contains over 12 000 glaciers with a total cumulative area that exceeds 25 000 km2, based on mapping from aerial photographs circa the mid-1980s. We use the inventory to examine dimensional characteristics among glaciers, namely the scaling relations between glacier length, width and area. Glacier length is a good predictor of glacier area, and its predictive ability improves when glaciers are stratified by the number of up-valley accumulation basins. The spatial pattern of glacier mid-range altitude parallels glaciation limits previously mapped for British Columbia and similarly reflects large-scale controls of orographic precipitation and continentality. The inventory is also used to refine models that relate glacier mid-range and terminus altitudes to regional position, aspect and, in the case of terminus altitudes, an index of glacier shape. Relations between glacier altitude limits and controlling spatial and topographic factors are used to make further climatic and mass-balance inferences from the glacier inventory.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3189/002214308785836995

Publication date: July 1, 2008

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.
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