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Publications—Open-File Report

Inventory of Glaciers in the Sierra Nevada, California

By William Raub, C Suzanne Brown, and Austin Post


Open-File Report 2006–1239


The body of the report is available in PDF Format ( 9.1 MB)





All perennial bodies of ice in the Sierra Nevada are listed and classified. The inventory includes 497 glaciers covering a total area of 50 square kilometers and 788 small ice bodies which do not meet the definition of a glacier, covering a total of 13 square kilometers. The listings include each ice body's drainage basin, location, orientation, altitude, area, and length the glaciers are also classified as to form, source, surface condition, and nature and activity of the terminus.




Historical observations

Pleistocene glaciation

Recent activity

Present glaciers

Glacier distribution

Compilation method

List of glaciers

Results of the inventory

Hydrological aspects



Hydrological significance


Appendix 1

Appendix 2


  1. Orientation map of California and the Sierra Nevada.
  2. Map showing Wisconsin glaciation and climatic firn limit in the Sierra Nevada and White Mountains.
  3. Graph showing number of glaciers and ice patches by size class distribution.
  4. Graph showing glacier and ice patch area by size class distribution.
  5. Diagram showing orientation of glaciers west of the crest and east of the crest.
  6. Graph of distribution of glaciers by terminus altitude.
  7. Graph of mean glacier altitude, by basin, versus total glacierized area of each basin.
  8. Northwest to southwest profile along the glaciated crest of the Sierra Nevada showing topography and gradient of mean glaciers altitude.
  9. Map showing mean annual precipitation in California.
  10. Graph illustrating snowfall variability at Donner Summit.
  11. Map showing the location of the glacierized basins in the Sierra Nevada.
  12. Graph showing comparison of times of maximum and minimum runoff in glacierized and nonglacierized basins.
  13. Depiction of the nonglaciated basin of Cottonwood Creek and the glaciated basin of Big Pine Creek.


1A. Glaciers of the Sierra Nevada.
1B. Ice patches of the Sierra Nevada.
2. Sierra Nevada river basins and inventory identification numbers.
3. Glacier classification.
4. Summary of data.
5. Glacier data by basin.
6. Comparison of hydrologic data from nonglacierized Cottonwood Creek with glacierized Big Pine Creek.


(In pocket)

  1. Topographic map of the central Sierra Nevada, California.
  2. Map showing glaciers and drainage basins of the central Sierra Nevada, California.
  3. Topographic map of the southern Sierra Nevada, California.
  4. Map showing glaciers and drainage basins of the southern Sierra Nevada, California.

Suggested citation:
Raub, William, Brown, C.S., and Post, Austin, 2006, Inventory of Glaciers in the Sierra Nevada, California: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2006-1239, 232 p, 4 plates.

If you have Adobe® Acrobat® or Adobe® Acrobat® Reader® installed on your computer, you may view and print the PDF version of this report. Acrobat Reader, is a free download from Adobe Systems, Inc. Users with disabilities can view information concerning accessibility at .

For further information, contact:

Richard Williams
U.S. Geological Survey
Woods Hole Science Center
384 Woods Hole Rd.
Woods Hole, MA 02543-1598

(508) 457-2347

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