Presently, 10 percent of land area on Earth is covered with glacial ice, including glaciers, ice caps, and the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica. Areas filled with glaciers cover over 15 million square kilometers, while they store about 75 percent of the world's fresh water.
Remote sensing images acquired from different platforms (satellite, aircraft) using sensors that operate in different spectral regions (visible, infrared, microwave) have been widely used to study glaciers, e.g. to measure ice thickness, surface ice velocities, and changes in surface elevation over time. Remote sensing techniques have been used for spectral characterization of different snow and ice faces, preliminary inventory of glaciers including aerial extent and position of large crevasses, and for mapping and monitoring glacial variations especially at the glacier margins and terminus location.
Multitemporal Landsat 8 imagery data allow the terminus and area mapping of glaciers as well as the study of the spectral characteristics of snow and ice in the spatial resolution of 15 m – 30 m.
Byrd Glacier, Antarctica (Left: RGB 432, Right: NDGI Index)