U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1386, Satellite Image Atlas of Glaciers of the World, contains 11 chapters designated by the letters A through K. Chapter A is a general chapter containing introductory material and a discussion of the physical characteristics, classification, and global distribution of glaciers. The next nine chapters, B through J, are arranged geographically and present glaciological information from Landsat and other sources of data on each of the geographic areas. Chapter B covers Antarctica; Chapter C, Greenland; Chapter D, Iceland; Chapter E, Continental Europe (except for the European part of the former Soviet Union), including the Alps, the Pyrenees, Norway, Sweden, Svalbard (Norway), and Jan Mayen (Norway); Chapter F, Asia, including the European part of the former Soviet Union, China (P.R.C.), India, Nepal, Afghanistan, and Pakistan; Chapter G, Turkey, Iran, and Africa; Chapter H, Irian Jaya (Indonesia) and New Zealand; Chapter I, South America; and Chapter J, North America. The final chapter, K, is a topically oriented chapter that presents related glaciological topics.
The realization that one element of the Earth's cryosphere, its glaciers, was amenable to global inventorying and monitoring with Landsat images led to the decision, in late 1979, to prepare this Professional Paper, in which Landsat 1, 2, and 3 multispectral scanner (MSS) and Landsat 2 and 3 return beam vidicon (RBV) images would be used to inventory the areal occurrence of glacier ice on our planet within the boundaries of the spacecraft's coverage (between about 81° north and south latitudes). Through identification and analysis of optimum Landsat images of the glacierized areas of the Earth during the first decade of the Landsat era, a global benchmark could be established for determining the areal extent of glaciers during a relatively narrow time interval (1972 to 1982). This global "snapshot" of glacier extent could then be used for comparative analysis with previously published maps and aerial photographs and with new maps, satellite images, and aerial photographs in order to determine the areal fluctuation of glaciers in response to natural or culturally induced changes in the Earth's climate.
To accomplish this objective, the editors selected optimum Landsat images of each of the glacierized regions of our planet from the Landsat image data base at the EROS Data Center in Sioux Falls, S. Dak., although some images were also obtained from the Landsat image archives maintained by the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and by the European Space Agency in Kiruna, Sweden, and Fucino, Italy. Between 1979 and 1981, these optimum images were distributed to an international team of more than 50 scientists who agreed to write a section of the Professional Paper concerning either a geographic area or a glaciological topic. In addition to analyzing images of a specific geographic area, each author was also asked to summarize up-to-date information about the glaciers within the area and to compare their present areal distribution with historical information (for example, from published maps, reports, and photographs) about their past extent. Completion of this atlas will provide an accurate regional inventory of the areal extent of glaciers on our planet during the 1970's.
Richard S. Williams, Jr.
Jane G. Ferrigno
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U.S. Geological Survey, U.S.Department of the Interior