A Caltech Library Service

Repeat optical satellite images reveal widespread and long term decrease in land-terminating glacier speeds

Heid, T. and Kääb, A. (2012) Repeat optical satellite images reveal widespread and long term decrease in land-terminating glacier speeds. The Cryosphere, 6 (2). pp. 467-478. ISSN 1994-0424. doi:10.5194/tc-6-467-2012.

[img] PDF - Published Version
Creative Commons Attribution.

[img] Archive (ZIP) - Supplemental Material
Creative Commons Attribution.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


By matching of repeat optical satellite images it is now possible to investigate glacier dynamics within large regions of the world and also between regions to improve knowledge about glacier dynamics in space and time. In this study we investigate whether the negative glacier mass balance seen over large parts of the world has caused the glaciers to change their speeds. The studied regions are Pamir, Caucasus, Penny Ice Cap, Alaska Range and Patagonia. In addition we derive speed changes for Karakoram, a region assumed to have positive mass balance and that contains many surge-type glaciers. We find that the mapped glaciers in the five regions with negative mass balance have over the last decades decreased their velocity at an average rate per decade of: 43 % in the Pamir, 8 % in the Caucasus, 25 % on Penny Ice Cap, 11 % in the Alaska Range and 20 % in Patagonia. Glaciers in Karakoram have generally increased their speeds, but surging glaciers and glaciers with flow instabilities are most prominent in this area. Therefore the calculated average speed change is not representative for this area.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Information
Additional Information:© Author(s) 2012. CC Attribution 3.0 License. Published by Copernicus Publications on behalf of the European Geosciences Union. Received: 17 October 2011 – Published in The Cryosphere Discuss.: 31 October 2011. Revised: 15 March 2012 – Accepted: 19 March 2012 – Published: 10 April 2012. Glacier outlines are downloaded from the GLIMS database Landsat images are downloaded from Elevation data are obtained through, and We received valuable comments on the manuscript by Duncan Quincey, an anonymous referee, Mauri Pelto, Ian Howat, Luke Copland and Christopher Nuth. The study is funded by The Research Council of Norway through the Precise analysis of mass movements through correlation of repeat images (CORRIA) project (no. 185906/V30), the ESA Climate Change Initiative project Glaciers cci (4000101778/10/I-AM), and the International Centre for Geohazards (SFF-ICG 146035/420). The study is also a contribution to the “Monitoring Earth surface changes from space” study by the Keck Institute for Space Studies at Caltech/JPL. Edited by: I. M. Howat
Group:Keck Institute for Space Studies
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Research Council of Norway185906/V30
European Space Agency (ESA)4000101778/10/I-AM
International Centre for GeohazardsSFF-ICG 146035/420
Keck Institute for Space Studies (KISS)UNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20160304-150735002
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Heid, T. and Kääb, A.: Repeat optical satellite images reveal widespread and long term decrease in land-terminating glacier speeds, The Cryosphere, 6, 467-478, doi:10.5194/tc-6-467-2012, 2012.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:65083
Deposited By: Colette Connor
Deposited On:04 Mar 2016 23:24
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 23:39

Repository Staff Only: item control page