A new satellite-derived glacier inventory for western Alaska

R. Le Bris*, F. Paul, H. Frey, T. Bolch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Glacier inventories provide the baseline data to perform climate-change impact assessment on a regional scale in a consistent and spatially representative manner. In particular, a more accurate calculation of the current and future contribution to global sea-level rise from heavily glacierized regions such as Alaska is much needed. We present a new glacier inventory for a large part of western Alaska (including Kenai Peninsula and the Tordrillo, Chigmit and Chugach mountains), derived from nine Landsat Thematic Mapper scenes acquired between 2005 and 2009 using well-established automated glacier-mapping techniques (band ratio). Because many glaciers are covered by optically thick debris or volcanic ash and partly calve intowater, outlineswere manually edited in these wrongly classified regions during post-processing. In total we mapped ~8830 glaciers (>0.02 km 2) with a total area of ~16 250 km 2. Large parts of the area (47%) are covered by a few (31) large (>100 km 2) glaciers, while glaciers less than 1km 2 constitute only 7.5% of the total area but 86% of the total number.We found a strong dependence of mean glacier elevation on distance from the ocean and only aweak one on aspect. Glacier area changes were calculated for a subset of 347 selected glaciers by comparison with the Digital Line Graph outlines from the US Geological Survey. The overall shrinkage was ~23% between 1948-57 and 2005-09.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-143
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Glaciology
Issue number59
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2011


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