In 2010-2011 Ulrike Schinke – a student from Germany – did an internship at University of Northern British Columbia with GIS and remote sensing expert Dr. Roger Wheate. Ulrike’s focus was on the change of glaciers in a region of northwest BC near the towns of Stewart, BC and Hyder, AK. Many glacier studies compare older maps or aerial photography of glacier surface elevation with more recent satellite imagery to determine how the surfaces of glaciers have changed. Differencing the two maps gives surface elevation change, which can then be converted to volume and mass change.
Blue lines indicate glacier area and the color coding (blue to red) shows elevation change from 1967 to 2005. Near the termini (snouts) of these glaciers elevation change is increasingly negative – up to ~200 m in some locations (an average of ~5 m per year). Also note that many upper-elevation areas show an increase in surface height, or glacier ‘growth’.
Visually, the surface elevation change of the southern terminus of Salmon Glacier looks like this:
Note that this image pair shows change over a different period than Ulrike’s surface-elevation change figure (above). However, the visual of ~200 m of surface elevation loss is dramatic.
The Salmon Glacier and the surrounding landscape are phenomenally beautiful and dynamic. Unlike many large glaciers in the Coast Mountains, and other mountain ranges, Salmon Glacier is unique in its accessibility. Learn more through the links below.
Thanks to Ulrike and Roger for sharing their work at GlacierChange.org!
Links to more information on Salmon Glacier.