Chapter

Global Land Ice Measurements from Space

Part of the series Springer Praxis Books pp 333-352

Date:

Remote Sensing of Glaciers in the Canadian Cordillera, Western Canada

  • Roger D. WheateAffiliated withNatural Resources and Environmental Studies Institute, University of Northern British Columbia
  • , Etienne BerthierAffiliated withLaboratoire D’Etude En Ge´Ophysique et Oce´Anographie Spatiales, OMP-LEGOS, Centre National de La Recherche Scientifique
  • , Tobias BolchAffiliated withDepartment of Geography, University of Zurich Irchel
  • , Brian P. MenounosAffiliated withNatural Resources and Environmental Studies Institute, University of Northern British Columbia
  • , Joseph M. SheaAffiliated withNatural Resources and Environmental Studies Institute, University of Northern British Columbia
  • , John J. ClagueAffiliated withInstitut Fu¨ R Kartographie, Technische Universita¨ T
  • , Erik SchieferAffiliated withEarth Sciences, Simon Fraser University

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Abstract

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.