An inventory and morphometric analysis of British Columbia glaciers, Canada

Erik Schiefer, Brian Menounos, Roger Wheate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


We describe an automated method to generate an inventory of glaciers and glacier morphometry from a digital topographic database containing glacier boundaries and a digital elevation model for British Columbia, Canada. The inventory contains over 12 000 glaciers with a total cumulative area that exceeds 25 000 km2, based on mapping from aerial photographs circa the mid-1980s. We use the inventory to examine dimensional characteristics among glaciers, namely the scaling relations between glacier length, width and area. Glacier length is a good predictor of glacier area, and its predictive ability improves when glaciers are stratified by the number of up-valley accumulation basins. The spatial pattern of glacier mid-range altitude parallels glaciation limits previously mapped for British Columbia and similarly reflects large-scale controls of orographic precipitation and continentality. The inventory is also used to refine models that relate glacier mid-range and terminus altitudes to regional position, aspect and, in the case of terminus altitudes, an index of glacier shape. Relations between glacier altitude limits and controlling spatial and topographic factors are used to make further climatic and mass-balance inferences from the glacier inventory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)551-560
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Glaciology
Issue number186
StatePublished - 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes


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