GLIMS: Global Land Ice Measurements from Space
Monitoring the World's Changing Glaciers
This letter of support for GLIMS was sent to Dr. Hugh Kieffer (GLIMS Project PI) by Dr. Josef Cihlar (Chair, GCOS Terrestrial Observation Panel for Climate).
Dr. Hugh Kieffer February 7, 2000 Principal Investigator, GLIMS U.S. Geological Survey 2255 N. Gemini Drive Flagstaff, AZ 86001 Dear Dr. Kieffer At the previous sessions of the GCOS/GTOS Terrestrial Observation Panel for Climate, it was evident that comprehensive global glacier observations are key to many of the concerns of international global change programs, from both science and policy perspectives. Through the initiative of the Terrestrial Observation Panel for Climate (TOPC) and on behalf of the Global Climate Observing System and the Global Terrestrial Observing System, an initial global in situ network has been set up, the Global Terrestrial Observation Network for glaciers (GTN-G) operated as part of GTOS. While this network needs further enhancements and more sites, it does provide a kernel for long-term, consistent observations around the world. Nevertheless, even once additional sites are established the surface network will be too sparse to provide globally and regionally adequate data. The ony realistic solution to this dilemma is an integration of in situ and satellite observations, as proposed by TOPC through the GHOST strategy. It is for this reason that the Global Land-Ice Measurements from Space (GLIMS) project and the Landsat-7 Antarctic glacier mapping project are of central importance to the development of a comprehensive observations of the world's glaciers. Presentations by Drs. Barry and Kargel at previous TOPC meetings provided convincing evidence of the strong contribution that GLIMS and similar projects can make to increasing our understanding of the terrestrial cryosphere at global and regional levels. Of particular importance are (1) the global nature of the observations; (2) an international approach to glacier image dissemination planned by EOS and GLIMS; (3) an international structure of glaciologists already in place for data analysis; (4) the plans for building a digital, publicly accessible data archive of glacier parameters at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC); and (5) co-ordination with other existing international glacier programs. TOPC therefore recommended that GLIMS be endorsed as an important contribution to the evolving global observing systems. At its last meeting, the GCOS Steering Committee accepted this recommendation (Decision 29, see below). As you may also know, the space agencies and international in-situ observation agencies have jointly undertaken the implementation of an Integrated Global Observing Strategy (IGOS). IGOS is based on a comprehensive analysis of observation requirements for specific thematic themes, and the a co-ordinated implementation of space and surface components of the required observations. A preliminary discussion at the TOPC V meeting in Birmingham, U.K. Indicated that glacier observations will be an important input to the study and assessment of the terrestrial hydrological cycle. With the increasing priority put on fresh water issues and the key role that water plays in the terrestrial biogeochemical cycling as well as surface-atmosphere interactions, it is apparent that systematic observations of the hydrological cycle will need to be developed under IGOS. To this end, the above projects and similar initiatives will take the initial steps and will provide important building blocks. For all the above reasons, I am pleased to confirm the high importance of GLIMS and similar projects as seen by TOPC. To maximise the value of these projects to GCOS and GTOS, we would like to establish close links and propose the following as guidelines for collaboration: GLIMS representative will provide a report at regular TOPC meetings. Normally, personal representation at the meeting, funded by the project, would be expected to facilitate discussions of results and next steps. In fairly early states of the project, begin joint consideration of activities that should continue once the project (as initially approved) is completed, and jointly develop realistic implementation options. The target should be to have, shortly after the mid-point of the project, a detailed plan that includes follow-on activities and a mechanism for securing funding for these. Final report should be provided by GLIMS to GTOS and GCOS, and should describe information products, results, and other achievements relevant to systematic global observations. We look forward to working with the GLIMS team. Sincerely, Josef Cihlar (Dr.) Chair GTOS/GCOS Terrestrial Observation Panel for Climate c.: A. Thomas, GCOS; J. Tschirley, GTOS GCOS Steering Committee meeting #8, Decision 29: "The SC encouraged the enhancement and further development of the glacier observation network (GTN-G), for example by incorporating satellite data (as Tier 5) through new initiatives such as the proposed Global Land Ice Monitoring System (GLIMS), by establishing new sites in data-sparse regions, and by revitalising existing sites where measurements have been discontinued. It endorsed efforts aimed at developing common reporting, performance-measurement and review procedures with ICSU and other appropriate groups."