NASA Funds Study of World's Glaciers - Key Indicators of Climate Change

August 14, 2003

Washington, 13 Aug 2003

Researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder will combine historical records with measurements from satellites to complete an online database of the world's glaciers -- which are viewed as key indicators of climate change.

An August 11 press release says researchers at the university's National Snow and Ice Data Center will receive $1.8 million from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to provide a global picture of the response of glaciers to climate change, which up to now has been difficult to obtain. For example, fluctuation measurements have been made on only a few hundred of the world's approximately 160,000 glaciers.

"Accelerated melting over the last two decades has contributed to rising sea levels and impacted water resources and hydropower potential in many mountain regions of the world," said Richard Armstrong, principal investigator on the project.

The scientists will combine high-resolution data from NASA's Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer with other satellite imagery and new digital inventories of glaciers in the former Soviet Union and China, and historical data collected from both of those countries and from other regions around the world.

Central Asia, the largest glacier-covered area outside of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, accounted for 40 percent of the total sea-level rise resulting from glacier melt from 1961 to 1990.

Glaciologists located at research facilities around the world will assist in analyzing the satellite imagery to create a new baseline of current glacier conditions that will be compared to historical measurements from such things as field surveys, aerial photography and glacier inventories.

Text of the press release:

US Department of State

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