Remote sensing of the Bering Glacier region

Document Type


Publication Date



Satellite remote sensing is an invaluable tool for monitoring and characterizing the Bering Glacier System. Applications of glacier remote sensing include, but are not limited to, mapping extent and features, ice velocities through sequential observations, glacier terminus locations, snow line location, glacier albedo, changes in glacier volume, iceberg surveys and calving rates, hydrographic and water quality parameters in ice marginal lakes, and land-cover classification maps. Historical remote sensing images provide a much needed geospatial time record of the dynamic changes that Bering Glacier has undergone, including changes from its surge behavior and response to climate change. Remote sensing images dating back to the early 1990s have been used to map the glacier terminus retreat of ~5 to 7 km, which has resulted in Vitus Lake increasing in volume 9.4 km3 (~260%) from 1995 to 2006. Using elevation data obtained from remote sensing and GPS surface points, we have determined that the glacier elevation has decreased by ~150 m at the terminus and 30 m at the equilibrium line (~1300 m) since 1972. Satellite observations have recorded the upward migration in altitude of the equilibrium line to its present (2006) position (slightly >1200 m). The decrease in glacier volume, obtained using remote sensing–derived elevation data, from 1957 to 2004 is estimated at ~104 km3. Remote sensing data also have mapped the sediment-rich (rock flour) water flowing into Vitus Lake, providing insight into the hydrologic circulation of the Bering Glacier System, showing major glacier discharge from the Abandoned River, Arrowhead Point, and Lamire Bay in the area of Vitus Lake west of Taggland.

Publisher's Statement

© 2010 Geological Society of America. Publisher's version of record: http://specialpapers.gsapubs.org/content/462/43.abstract

Edited by: Robert A. Shuchman Michigan Tech Research Institute Edward G. Josberger U.S. Geological Survey

Publication Title

GSA Special Papers 462, Bering Glacier: Interdisciplinary Studies of Earth's Largest Temperate Surging Glacier