THE CEOS DATABASE : Missions, Instruments and Measurements
GLOBAL CLIMATE OBSERVING SYSTEM
ESSENTIAL CLIMATE VARIABLE - Glaciers and ice caps
DomainTerrestrialDescriptionThis ECV was termed “Glaciers and ice caps” in IP-10, but here the term “Glacier” is used more generally, to include ice caps. Glaciers are defined as a perennial mass of ice, and possibly firn and snow, originating on the land surface from the recrystallisation of snow or other forms of solid precipitation and showing evidence of past or present flow. There are several types of glaciers such as glacierets, mountain glaciers, valley glaciers and ice fields, as well as ice caps. Some glacier tongues reach into lakes or the sea and can develop floating ice tongues or ice shelves.

Glacier changes are recognised as independent and natural evidence of climate change, in which high-confidence can be placed. Past, current, and future glacier changes impact on global sea level, the regional water cycle and local hazards. [GCOS-195 6.3.6]
Sub-domain-
Full NameGlaciers and ice caps
Satellite Signficant ContributionYes
GCOS Actions
Action
Status*
DescriptionWhoTime FramePerformance IndicatorCost Implications
T17
Cat-B
Maintain current glacier observing sites and add additional sites and infrastructure in data-sparse regions, including South America, Africa, the Himalayas, and New Zealand; attribute quality levels to long- term mass balance measurements; complete satellite-based glacier inventories in key areas.Parties’ national services and agencies coordinated by GTN-G partners, WGMS, GLIMS, and NSIDC.Continuing, new sites by 2015.Completeness of database held at NSIDC from WGMS and GLIMS.10-30M US$ (80% in non-Annex-I Parties).
*GCOS-195 Status Categories: Category A: Action completed, perhaps exceeding reasonable expectations. Very good progress on ongoing tasks. Category B: Action largely completed according to expectation. Good progress on ongoing tasks. Category C: Moderate progress overall, although progress may be good for some part of the action. Category D: Limited progress overall, although progress may be moderate or good for some part of the action. Category E: Very little or no progress, or deterioration rather than progress.
GCOS Products
ProductNameVariable/
Parameter
Related Measurements/
Instruments
from CEOS DB
T.3.12D vector outlines of glaciers and ice caps (delineating glacier area), supplemented by digital elevation models for drainage divides and topographic parameters2D vector outlines, delineating glacier area
Elevation data
Iceberg fractional cover
Iceberg height
Glacier cover
Glacier motion
Glacier topography
Ice sheet topography
Glacier area
T.3.2Elevation change of glaciers and ice caps, from geodetic methods, in regions where outlines are available2D vector outlines, delineating glacier area
Elevation data
Iceberg fractional cover
Iceberg height
Glacier cover
Glacier motion
Glacier topography
Ice sheet topography
Glacier area
CEOS Response[T17 (T.3.1, T.3.2)]

2015 Update: Glaciers_cci is providing an important contribution on mapping glacier and ice-cap areas in key regions, complemented by ice flow and elevation change observations. This effort is focussed on completing the databases on global glaciers in coordination with global efforts though WGMS/GLIMS and the Randolph Glacier Inventory.

Glacier area, elevation change and ice flow velocity are derived using a variety of sensors: high resolution optical, altimeters (ICESat, Cryosat) and SAR. The project has developed online tools for processing optical and microwave observations of glacier flow, and for elevation change using DEM differencing.

Glaciers_cci made major contributions in Norway, Greenland, Alaska, Himalaya, Pamir, Tien Shan, South Georgia, the Andes and Svalbard.

See http://www.esa-glaciers-cci.org for additional information

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