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A new semi-automatic approach for dividing glacier complexes into individual glaciers

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Many glaciological and hydrological studies require outlines of individual glaciers rather than total ice cover. Here we develop a new semi-automatic algorithm that uses a digital elevation model (DEM) and outlines of glacier complexes to calculate the extents of individual glaciers. The algorithm first applies hydrological modeling tools to a modified DEM to calculate flowsheds. It then merges flowsheds that belong to individual glaciers using a distance-based approach, whose required empirical parameters are derived from the Juneau Icefield area in Alaska. In this region, 2% of ∼1300 glaciers were misclassified. The algorithm was validated on >25 000 km2 of ice in other regions in Alaska and on >40 000 km2 of ice in Arctic Canada, resulting in ∼2% and ∼3% misclassified glaciers, respectively. Results indicate that the algorithm is robust provided the DEM and the outlines are of good quality.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 1, 2013

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  • 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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