Glacier monitoring by satellites

The Earth Observing System (EOS) has been developed to build a uniform database covering most glaciers of the world and to monitor changes in glaciers on a periodic basis (Kieffer et al., 1994). This planned survey will build on current and previous projects, including 20 years of space-based observations of glaciers, such as observations by LANDSAT, SPOT, ERS and RADARSAT. The satellite can observe all of the Earth's surface at latitudes less than 85°. The project is presently developed to determination of the equilibrium line altitude (ela) 57

acquire annual images of most of the world's glaciers to monitor, for example, surface velocities, areal extent and the position of large crevasses, to a precision of around 5 m. This project will hopefully result in a uniform, global database at 15 m resolution. This collaborative effort could potentially accomplish a periodic survey of the world's glaciers resulting in a uniform image data-set, monitor special events such as glacier surges, produce maps of the areal extent of glaciers and snow fields, give information about glacier surface velocities, advance and retreat, and give an inventory of the glaciers, including mean surface speed, length, width, areal extent, snowline, and the temporal changes in these parameters (Kieffer et al, 1994).

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