GLIMS Highlights for 2016

Read about the main features of the GLIMS Glacier Database.

Read about the Randolph Glacier Inventory.

GLIMS (Global Land Ice Measurements from Space) is a project designed to monitor the world's glaciers primarily using data from optical satellite instruments, such as ASTER (Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and reflection Radiometer).

GLIMS began as an ASTER Science Team project. Through this connection, we have guided the ASTER instrument to acquire imagery of Earth's glaciers in a way that is optimized (best season and instrument gain settings) for glacier monitoring. We have also put together a network of international collaborators who analyze imagery of glaciers in their regions of expertise. Analysis results include digital glacier outlines and related metadata, and can also include snow lines, center flow lines, hypsometry data, surface velocity fields, and literature references. Results from analysis done by the Regional Centers are sent for archive to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).

We continue to develop tools to aid in glacier mapping and for transfer of analysis results to NSIDC. An older software package is GLIMSView; other resources include documented procedures for GLIMS analysis, and web-based tools for data formatting and quality control. In practice, we have recently developed more tools for use here at NSIDC to ingest glacier data from a variety of sources, so a variety of tools may be used by analysts contributing data to GLIMS.

Over 60 institutions across the globe are involved in GLIMS. Until early 2015 the project was coordinated by Principal Investigator Jeffrey S. Kargel of the University of Arizona Department of Hydrology and Water Resources. General coordination, technical development, and data management are done at NSIDC in Boulder, Colorado, USA. The research team at NSIDC currently includes Richard Armstrong (former Principal Investigator and current advisor), Bruce Raup (General Coordinator and Technical Lead), and Siri Jodha Singh Khalsa (Remote Sensing Specialist).

"Glim" is an archaic Scottish term that means "a passing look; a glimpse; as much as is seen at a glance." In a future historical perspective, we may well look back on GLIMS and other early-21st Century remote-sensing of Earth's glaciers as a glim of a passing or changing phenomenon.