GLIMS: Global Land Ice Measurements from Space
Monitoring the World's Changing Glaciers
GLIMS is based on a collaborative network of "Regional Centers", who have helped with planning for ASTER data acquisition, and who do image analysis. These Regional Centers (which are glaciological institutions) are responsible for GLIMS activities for all the glaciers in a given region (such as a nation or major physiographic province). Regional Centers are usually hosted at a single institution, but they may develop their own system of collaborators ("Stewards"), who may take responsibility for smaller glacier areas down to the size of a single glacier. The GLIMS Coordination Center (NSIDC) typically coordinates GLIMS activities at the level of Regional Centers, whereas the Regional Centers are responsible for coordinating activities among their Stewards, if they have any.
Glacier data can be contributed to GLIMS from researchers not directly tied to any Regional Center. If you have glacier data, would like to share it with the world, but are not associated with any GLIMS institutions, please send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact one of us on our Contact Page. We can make the process of sharing your data with the world easy, and will give you credit for it forever.
The benefits to the GLIMS project from a Regional Center's collaboration are obvious, but how does the Regional Center benefit?
Prior to the December 1999 launch of Terra (which carries ASTER), the responsibilities of each Regional Center were to:
Continuing responsibilities include:
The mission-phase objective of each Regional Center is to perform data analysis. Each Regional Center will perform, at a minimum, an analysis using a set of algorithms shared among all the centers. GLIMS's objectives are to produce a uniform glacier database derived from a standardized, or fully qualified, analysis of glacier ice extent, glacier ice motion (where possible), the position of the transient snow line near the end of the melt season, and other basic quantities pertaining to the status and overall vigor of the world's glaciers. Any further types of analysis the Regional Center wishes to perform will be up to the center's interests. The data products of the standard analysis are sent for archival to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado. This database is freely accessible via the Web for general use by the scientific community and the public.
GLIMS has produced software, GLIMSView, which provides basic image analysis and GLIMS data formatting capabilities. GLIMSView runs under Linux or Windows. Regional Centers may wish to use this software, as the data exported from it are easily ingested into the GLIMS Glacier Database. However, Regional Centers are not constrained to use any particular analysis tools, and ingest of data produced by other tools is increasingly easy, due to the development of data ingest tools at NSIDC. If Regional Centers already have their own analysis tools, or have programming support to develop their own tools that produce comparable (or superior) results, then they are free to employ those.
ASTER imagery is available from the EROS Data Center via the Reverb Tool, and is available to GLIMS Regional Centers at no charge. If you're not on the list of allowed people, please contact us. Satellite image and air photo analysis may of course use other sources of image data, and your analysis may use field methods in addition to or besides image analysis. Stewards should coordinate their data sources and work plans with the responsible Regional Center.
The hardware and funding for data analysis are the responsibility of each Regional Center. Generally, regional analysis requires both a dedicated professional glaciologist and a technician (or a technically savvy glaciologist), who will interface with NSIDC to submit data to the GLIMS Glacier Database. Once compiled at NSIDC, the data will be publicly and freely accessible via the Internet. However, submitted data may have an embargo period placed on them (at the request of the analyst), making it impossible to download those data for the specified period (up to one year). All data downloaded from the GLIMS Glacier Database carries with it appropriate attribution information, so that the end user knows who produced the data.
In the interest of producing a database of uniform quality and proven dependability, GLIMS has performed image analysis experiments (GLACE). See
Raup, Bruce, Andreas Kaab, Jeffrey S. Kargel, Michael P. Bishop, Gordon Hamilton, Ella Lee, Frank Paul, Frank Rau, Deborah Soltesz, Siri Jodha Singh Khalsa, Matthew Beedle, and Christopher Helm (2007). "Remote Sensing and GIS Technology in the Global Land Ice Measurements from Space (GLIMS) Project." Computers and Geosciences 33:104--125, doi:10.1016/j.cageo.2006.05.015. PDFfor more information about GLACE. More detailed information on the subject is in Chapter 7 of the GLIMS Book (see here).
A page decribing the original GLIMS MOU is here. Below are (old) templates for an MOU between a Regional Center and a Steward. See our Contact Information for more information on who and how to contact the GLIMS team.