Worldwide retreat of glaciers confirmed in unprecedented detail

November 19, 2014 by Jane Beitler, National Snow & Ice Data Center
Worldwide retreat of glaciers confirmed in unprecedented detail
This ASTER satellite image from the GLIMS Glacier database shows glaciers in the Langtang area of the Nepal Himalaya (acquired 2003-10-30). Credit: NSIDC

The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) is part of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder.

A new book from the international GLIMS (Global Land Ice Measurements from Space) initiative, an international collaboration including the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado Boulder, provides the most comprehensive report to date on global glacier changes.  

The book, Global Land Ice Measurements from Space, presents an overview and detailed assessment of changes in the world's glaciers by using satellite imagery from optical satellite instruments such as ASTER (Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer) and Landsat.

While the shrinking of glaciers on all continents is already known from ground observations of individual glaciers, by using repeated satellite observations GLIMS has firmly established that glaciers are shrinking globally. Although some glaciers are maintaining their size, most glaciers are dwindling. The foremost cause of the worldwide reductions in glaciers is global warming, the team writes. 

The full-color book has twenty-five regional chapters that illustrate glacier changes from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Other chapters provide a thorough theoretical background on glacier monitoring and mapping, remote sensing techniques, uncertainties, and interpretation of the observations in a climatic context. The book highlights many other glacier research applications of satellite data, including measurement of glacier thinning from repeated satellite-based digital elevation models (DEMs) and calculation of surface flow velocities from repeated satellite images.

These tools are key to understanding local and regional variations in glacier behavior, the team writes. The high sensitivity of glaciers to climate change has substantially decreased their volume and changed the landscape over the past decades, affecting both regional water availability and the hazard potential of glaciers. The growing GLIMS database about glaciers also contributed to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report issued in 2013. The IPCC report concluded that most of the world's have been losing ice at an increasing rate in recent decades.

Explore further: Image: Glaciers and mountains in West Antarctica

More information: GLIMS Glacier Database: glims.colorado.edu/glacierdata/

Related Stories

Retreat of Yakutat Glacier

August 21, 2014

Located in the Brabazon Range of southeastern Alaska, Yakutat Glacier is one of the fastest retreating glaciers in the world. It is the primary outlet for the 810-square kilometer (310-square mile) Yakutat ice field, which ...

Human contribution to glacier mass loss on the increase

August 14, 2014

By combining climate and glacier models, scientists headed by Ben Marzeion from the University of Innsbruck have found unambiguous evidence for anthropogenic glacier mass loss in recent decades. In a paper published in Science, ...

Recommended for you

Nanoscale Lamb wave-driven motors in nonliquid environments

March 19, 2019

Light driven movement is challenging in nonliquid environments as micro-sized objects can experience strong dry adhesion to contact surfaces and resist movement. In a recent study, Jinsheng Lu and co-workers at the College ...

OSIRIS-REx reveals asteroid Bennu has big surprises

March 19, 2019

A NASA spacecraft that will return a sample of a near-Earth asteroid named Bennu to Earth in 2023 made the first-ever close-up observations of particle plumes erupting from an asteroid's surface. Bennu also revealed itself ...

Levitating objects with light

March 19, 2019

Researchers at Caltech have designed a way to levitate and propel objects using only light, by creating specific nanoscale patterning on the objects' surfaces.

28 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

gkam
3.7 / 5 (12) Nov 19, 2014
What???

Ryg, Joeblow, 166, and the other Deniers said it was only a liberal trick to get our money! They were SURE we had the same character as conservatives, and would lie to get money.

Look up how many people depend on those glaciers, and get back to us.
peter_piasecki_92
1 / 5 (8) Nov 19, 2014
now they are trying to sell books, follow the money............
gkam
3.7 / 5 (12) Nov 19, 2014
Why do those not in science project the ethics of other professions onto it?

Once again: Look up how many people depend on those glaciers, and get back to us.
TegiriNenashi
1 / 5 (8) Nov 19, 2014
This infamous report is like a bible or something?
"Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth *Harassment* Report issued in 2013"
gkam
3.7 / 5 (12) Nov 19, 2014
"This infamous report is like a bible or something?"
--------------------------------

Are YOU going to refute it? And we should believe you why??
gkam
3.8 / 5 (13) Nov 19, 2014
This is hilarious: I have about five kooks following my posts and automatically voting them down. Like sheep.

As long as the stalkers are impotent, it is okay. It is good to put meaning in their pathetic little lives.
Caliban
4.6 / 5 (10) Nov 19, 2014
@gkam,

At least that way you can be sure that your argument is having the desired effect upon the moron troll legion.

Another thought strikes me, as well: I wonder how long it will be until Ubybooby/ubvontard/UBYMORON responds to this article. He was on a tear 3 or 4 years ago, claiming that the NIDC had incontrovertible evidence that snow and ice cover was actually on the increase, globally.

On second thought --it's most likely that we'll not hear even a peep from the UBY.

That's some good news, at least.

Anyway, gkam --keep fighting the good fight, and wear those 1s from tugnads, ryggsuckn', mister sicksticks, et al, as badges of honor.
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (9) Nov 20, 2014
Cue the Water Wars. Once those glaciers are gone, or even seriously depleted, people downstream are gonna start getting upset.

Wonder how much food gets grown using water from all those glaciers? Anybody got some stats?
gkam
3.9 / 5 (11) Nov 20, 2014
http://www.21stce...rs-asia/

For Da S.

Concerned now? And that is just Asia. Those in the Andes are also going.
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (6) Nov 20, 2014
Thanks, gkam.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (6) Nov 20, 2014
Another thought strikes me, as well: I wonder how long it will be until Ubybooby/ubvontard/UBYMORON responds to this article. He was on a tear 3 or 4 years ago, claiming that the NIDC had incontrovertible evidence that snow and ice cover was actually on the increase, globally
@Caliban
actually, she has chosen to argue this point elsewhere
she said
Antarctic ice continues to creep northward:

http://arctic.atm...ctic.png

And the Arctic ice has recovered so abruptly scientists are beginning to fear a period of global cooling is at hand:

http://www.telegr...sts.html
and you can find her argument here: http://phys.org/n...html#jCp

i didn't think she would actually try to post here... but she posted on that other thread and is trying to smear it all up with Nevermark

check it out
gkam
2.7 / 5 (7) Nov 20, 2014
Read this and count up the people affected.

http://www.21stce...rs-asia/

Think there will be repercussions?

Is it time to drop the politics and work together to save the Earth?
gkam
1.8 / 5 (5) Nov 20, 2014
I love it. Ira cannot debate me, so I count on the ratings to see if I got to him again.

Works every time. I am glad to play such an important part in his little life.
gkam
1.8 / 5 (5) Nov 20, 2014
" Ira cannot debate me, so I count on the ratings to see if I got to him again."

Oops, it is another one unable to debate, otto, the guy who knows more than you, but has never done it, . . whatever it is.
gkam
2.3 / 5 (6) Nov 20, 2014
Otto, Tell the folks here how many people in Asia alone live with these threatened water supplies.

I will not be able to read the response, but can read the other comments.
gkam
2.7 / 5 (7) Nov 20, 2014
The glaciers not feeding rivers dump their water into the seas, increasing sea ice in Antarctica, and ice floes from Greenland, raising sea levels. Although many glaciers seem to be stable, we find they are being undercut by flowing water, unseen until we searched for it.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.4 / 5 (5) Nov 20, 2014
Otto, Tell the folks here how many people in Asia alone live with these threatened water supplies.

I will not be able to read the response, but can read the other comments.
Sicko, Tell the folks here what motivates you to post every 10 minutes or so, to the sum of 50 and more posts a day. Also include an explanation as to why you need to lie about your history and qualifications as an engineer, scientist, test pilot, etc.

Are you ill?
gkam
2.3 / 5 (6) Nov 20, 2014
I see otto does not like my post, but is unable to debate it.

I can tell because I checked the votes. I do not read the comments of his/hers.

But the point is glaciers, isn't it? Tell them, otto, how many folk will be without adequate water, based on this article?
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.4 / 5 (5) Nov 20, 2014
I see otto does not like my post, but is unable to debate it.
Sybil, What is there to debate? Why should the people here waste time chasing down your manic lies about things you know nothing about, such as nuclear energy and glaciers and plutonium raining down on idaho?

Just how ill are you anyway?
gkam
2.3 / 5 (6) Nov 20, 2014
http://www.21stce...rs-asia/

Add it up. What are the consequences of doing nothing?

Then, I'll meet you in the thread about real-time ocean acidification.
tadchem
1 / 5 (1) Nov 20, 2014
Glaciers don't melt because the temperature is getting warmer - they melt because the temperature is above 0°C.
Once it has been formed, it can take several centuries to several millennia for a glacier to melt completely.
The end of the last Ice Age was not an overnight event.
The Younger Dryas hasn't finished ending.
gkam
1.8 / 5 (5) Nov 20, 2014
"Glaciers don't melt because the temperature is getting warmer - they melt because the temperature is above 0°C."
-------------------------------------------

That is meaningless. They have a stasis in normal conditions, but lose water as the temperature rises, and the partial pressure of water vapor increases. Under the great pressures of ice, the bottoms of the glaciers melt at lower temperatures.
gkam
1.8 / 5 (5) Nov 20, 2014
Instead of lurking in the background to give me ones, why doesn't otto try to debate the technical issues?

Oh, I forgot. I can't read his posts. Maybe they are not just personal attacks like they were in the past, and maybe otto has learned to debate.

Meanwhile, the glaciers are really melting, and all we get is noise from conservatives. This is a genuine issue. It will affect about a billion people worldwide, and soon. We see it already.

Why are we being opposed?
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (2) Nov 20, 2014


Why are we being opposed?


Because most of the policies proposed to fix it can't work....
gkam
1 / 5 (4) Nov 20, 2014
Our PG&E system was fed by wind, hydro, nuclear, geothermal, pumped storage, landfill gas, gas peaking boilers, supercritical gas boilers, solar thermal, photovoltaic, fuel cells of all kinds, some sources I forgot, and even the emergency generators in the facilities of our customers dispatched directly by us. That was in the 1980's.

Wind power and cheap gas (for the short term), already have closed three nuclear power plants. When we integrate all the energy-saving and advanced sources, we will all be suppliers and customers, at our choice.

We can and will wean ourselves of Filthy Fuels for the most part.
Modernmystic
not rated yet Nov 20, 2014
We can and will wean ourselves of Filthy Fuels for the most part.


We can and will, just not the way you think we can.
gkam
1 / 5 (4) Nov 20, 2014
"We can and will, just not the way you think we can."
------------------------------------------

That's good, too. Unless it creates nasty waste.
gkam
1 / 5 (4) Nov 20, 2014

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.