Status of Glacier Monitoring in the Canadian Arctic


Roy M. Koerner, Geological Survey of Canada

Presently three groups work on Canadian Arctic Glaciers:

  1. Trent University, Geography Dept: continuing the mass balance work on White and Baby Glaciers on Axel Heiberg Islands (begun in 1960) and recently published as an NHRI report.

  2. University of Edmonton, Geography Dept: various glaciological activities in Northern Ellesmere Island, no glacier monitoring program.

  3. Geological Survey of Canada: Mass balance of Devon (1961- ), Meighen (1960- ), and Melville S. Ice Caps (1963- ), and a glacier on Northern Ellesmere (1977- ). Main program, however, is ice core and spatial snow studies for (paleo)climatic change and pollution studies. This program has been extended to Penny Ice Cap (southern Baffin) and is run in cooperation with the University of New Hampshire (USA), National Institute Snow and Ice Studies and National Institute Polar Research, both Japan. The paleoclimate aspect of this work is allowing broad-based extensions of present-day mass balance conditions back in time.

All mass balance programs under #1 and #3 use traditional, ground-based techniques. Under #3, a start has been made to incorporate automatic weather stations mainly for temperature and snow accumulation records. This approach will soon include the use of (hopefully) inexpensive automatic ablatometers in the ablation zones. NASA (Thomas) has completed a set of airborne radar/laser/GPS measurements, along tracks suggested by the GSC, over most of the ice caps and glaciers of the Canadian Arctic. These tracks, once repeated will give a wide-scale measurement of glacier change.

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