This chapter is 1 in a series of 11 that comprise U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1386, Satellite Image Atlas of Glaciers of the World, which is directed at the use of remotely sensed images, primarily from the Landsat 1, 2, and 3 series of spacecraft, to document, monitor, and study the glacierized regions of our planet. Although Landsat 1, 2, and 3 multispectral scanner (MSS) and Landsat 3 return beam vidicon (RBV) images are especially well suited to studying changes in the Antarctic ice sheet (Chapter B), the Greenland ice sheet (Chapter C and ice caps and (or) ice fields in Iceland (Chapter D), Europe (Chapter E), Asia (Chapter F), South America (Chapter I), and North America (Chapter J), the images can also be used, in conjunction with maps, aerial photographs, and field measurements, to study and monitor changes in smaller glaciers on high mountains at lower latitudes, if the glaciers reach a size of a few kilometers (length or diameter).
In Irian Jaya, Indonesia, three small perennial ice fields are located on Puncak Jaya massif, Puncak Mandala, and Ngga Pilimsit in the Central Range. The largest ice field, on Puncak Jaya massif, has an area of approximately 7 km2. All three ice fields have experienced rapid retreat during the 20th century, a situation that has been documented at other equatorial glaciers in Africa (Chapter G) and South America (Chapter I). Landsat images were combined with field observations to locate, delineate, and monitor changes in the ice field.
In New Zealand, approximately 3,155 glaciers occur along the crest of the Southern Alps, South Island, and 6 glaciers are present on Mount Ruapehu, North Island. The total area covered is about 1,159 km2, with an estimated volume of 53.3 km3. In 1859, the first observations were made of New Zealand's glaciers; in 1889, the first precise measurements were carried out, although modern glaciological studies were not begun until the 1950's. Because of limitations in spatial resolution of the sensors, Landsat images were found to be useful only for monitoring changes in the largest glaciers and in the position of the transient snowline.
Richard S. Williams, Jr.
Jane G. Ferrigno,
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U.S. Geological Survey, U.S.Department of the Interior