Remote Sensing of Glaciers in the Canadian Cordillera, Western Canada

  • Roger D. Wheate
  • Etienne Berthier
  • Tobias Bolch
  • Brian P. Menounos
  • Joseph M. Shea
  • John J. Clague
  • Erik Schiefer
Part of the Springer Praxis Books book series (PRAXIS)


We review the use of spaceborne imagery and digital elevation models (DEMs) to evaluate glacier thinning and retreat in the Canadian Cordillera, an area that includes the provinces of British Columbia (BC), Alberta, and Yukon Territory. Glaciers in Alberta and British Columbia lost 11.1 ± 3.8 % of their area over the period 1985–2005, which represents an approximate annual shrinkage rate of 0.55 %. For the period 1985–1999 the average thinning rate of sampled glaciers was 0.78 ± 0.19 m/year water equivalent (w.e.), which equates to an annual volume loss of 22.48 ± 5.53 km3. Mean annual ice loss in the Yukon between 1977 and 2007 was 5.5 ± 1.7 km3/year, while the average mass balance for Yukon glaciers over this period was −0.45 ± 0.09 m/year. We also summarize changes in glacier extents and surface elevation from 1965 to 2005, and include examples of surging glaciers in the Yukon and glacier hazards in British Columbia.


Shuttle Radar Topography Mission British Columbia Glacier Area Coast Mountain Glacier Change 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Research examining glacier changes in British Columbia and Alberta was completed by the Western Canadian Cryospheric Network (WC2 N). Work in the Yukon was funded by the Polar Climate Stability Network. Both networks were funded by the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences (CFCAS). We also thank the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). ASTERdata courtesy ofNASA/GSFC/METI/Japan Space Systems, the U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team, and the GLIMS project.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roger D. Wheate
    • 1
  • Etienne Berthier
    • 2
  • Tobias Bolch
    • 3
  • Brian P. Menounos
    • 1
  • Joseph M. Shea
    • 1
  • John J. Clague
    • 4
  • Erik Schiefer
    • 5
  1. 1.Natural Resources and Environmental Studies InstituteUniversity of Northern British ColumbiaPrince GeorgeCanada
  2. 2.Laboratoire D’Etude En Ge´Ophysique et Oce´Anographie Spatiales, OMP-LEGOSCentre National de La Recherche ScientifiqueToulouseFrance
  3. 3.Department of GeographyUniversity of Zurich IrchelZurichSwitzerland
  4. 4.Institut Fu¨ R KartographieTechnische Universita¨ TDresdenGermany
  5. 5.Earth SciencesSimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada

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