1993-1994 surge of Gakona Glacier, Alaska Range

Debris Cover Tools

Glaciers are constantly in a state of flux. In addition to glacier evolution, rock debris rafting on the surface, surface streams and supraglacial lakes are all also evolving, likely at independent rates. The glacier surge event shown above is an extreme example of this, but within an unstable climate, all glaciers will undergo dramatic changes over decadal to centennial time-scales. Quantifying this change is the first step in understanding and modeling the greater questions in glaciology. The front edge of this effort is currently centered around large-scale to global mapping products optimized for accuracy, consistency and computational efficiency. To contribute to this effort, my co-authors and I have written two “Automated detection of…” articles aimed at subdividing glacier area into very specific categories that will increase the ability of computer models to approach what is truly found in nature and make future projections.

Version 1 of Debris Cover Tools was released in May 2018 and includes a new method for mapping ice cliffs. There are several more tools in preparation and improvements to Version 1. Currently, the code calls functions within ArcPy that require an ‘Advanced’ ArcGIS license.


. Automated detection of unstable glacier flow and a spectrum of speedup behavior in the Alaska Range. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 2016.

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