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In this Issue



Issue 16, Winter 1996


A significant recent addition to the ARCSS program is the Human Dimensions of Global Change in the Arctic (HARC). Last fall, the initial meeting for this new program took place in Tucson and brought together researchers from a variety of disciplines, including biology, archeology, anthropology and climatology. This eclectic group was charged with developing the initial science plan which is currently being edited for the HARC program. The National Science Foundation strongly encourages this program to compliment the already ongoing physical science program in the Arctic. The NSIDC ARCSS Data Management team attended the Tucson meeting and are beginning to work with HARC investigators on data management concerns. Social science data have many different characteristics from our usual data collections. It is important that we fully understand the issues and concerns related to archiving social data at the ARCSS Data Coordination Center.

Jack Kruse of the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of Alaska-Anchorage is among the first investigators funded for HARC-related studies. Below is a summary of his grant entitled, "Sustainability of Arctic Communities: Interactions Between Global Changes, Public Policies, and Ecological Processes."

This study will address policy questions about the ability of Arctic human communities to sustain themselves in the face of development and global climate change. For the past 25 years, communities in Alaska's Arctic have sustained themselves through a combination of wage employment derived from petroleum revenues, harvests of caribou, marine mammals and other resources, and local control exercised through regional government and native-owned corporations. The principal climate changes considered in this study are rising temperatures, increased precipitation, and increased frequency of extreme events. Global climate changes are expected to affect the seasonal availability and quality of forage for caribou, thereby affecting a primary source of food for natives in the region. Climate changes may also affect construction, operation, and transportation costs, thereby affecting regional development. The effects of climate change must be considered in the context of other factors affecting development and associated land use changes and changes in Borough revenues.

The policy audience for this proposal includes state and national entities, but the primary focus is on the North Slope Borough, the Gwitch'in - both in Alaska and in Canada, and the Inupiat in the Northwest Arctic Borough. Policy makers would like to understand the possible implications of global change on development and subsistence, since those activities so directly affect the lives of the Inupiat and the Gwitch'in. National policy makers also have an interest in looking at such issues. Because high latitudes are likely to experience the effects of global change early and severely, studies of social impacts and responses can generate useful knowledge of phenomena likely to occur later elsewhere. In addition, the rich research base of the region offers an opportunity to focus on the linkages between scientific disciplines at a landscape scale over a period of decades. Both federal and state wildlife management agencies have an interest in understanding the implications of global change on fluctuations in wildlife populations.

An interdisciplinary group will focus on relationships between global changes in climate and development and changes in vegetation, caribou populations and movements, human use of caribou, wage employment, and perceived local control. Major project tasks include:

(a) development of a vegetation model that predicts forage for caribou and sensitivity to development as a function of climate, caribou, and past development;

(b) development of a caribou model that responds to climate, vegetation, development, and human harvest;

(c) econometric and institutional analysis of petroleum investment as affected by environmental costs and public policies;

(d) subsistence hunting/wage employment model as affected by caribou densities and locations and wage opportunities;

(e) comparative analysis of policy vehicles for responding to forces for change; and

(f) development of a synthesis framework for relating policies to future outcomes in the context of global climate change and development.

The analysis region is northern Alaska and northwestern Canada. It embraces the ranges of the Western Arctic, Teshekpuk, Central Arctic, and Porcupine Caribou herds and the Inupiat and Gwitch'in communities located there. Communities within the study region but outside the borough depend on the same caribou resources but do not enjoy the petroleum revenues or the same degree of local control as borough communities do. These variations in wage employment, subsistence, and local control measures of sustainability strengthen the implications of the model.

For more information contact: Jack Kruse, University of Alaska-Anchorage, (e-mail), (907) 786-7743 (phone).


SSM/I Pathfinder Processing Update

NSIDC, through support provided by the NOAA/NASA Pathfinder Program, is pleased to announce the completion, in March 1996, of EASE-Grid Brightness Temperature data for the Pathfinder Benchmark Period, including dates of August 1987 through November 1988.

The complete EASE-Grid Brightness Temperature Benchmark data set is currently available on a set of three series of CDs, one series each for the EASE-Grid Northern hemisphere (8 CDs), Southern hemisphere (8 CDs) and full global projection, (approx. 16 Cds). Currently available Brightness Temperature CDs, as of March 1996, are:

Northern Hemisphere: Volumes 1.0-8.0: August 1987 - December 1988

Full Global: Volumes 1.0-16.0: August 1987 - December 1988

Southern Hemisphere:Volumes 1.0-4.0 : August 1987 - April 1988

NSIDC is currently continuing production of the EASE-Grid Brightness Temperature data for the period following the Pathfinder Benchmark Period, and will be updating data availability information, via ftp and new CD volumes, in future issues of this publication.

For general information on SSM/I Pathfinder activities at NSIDC, including detailed data set descriptions and sample images of available data sets, please visit the Polar Pathfinder project and Polar Pathfinder data sites at NSIDC.

For more information on EASE-Grid Brightness Temperature data availability, please contact NSIDC User Services.

Corrupt SMMR Ice Concentration File

A corrupt ice concentration file has been found on Volume 7 of the Nimbus-7 SMMR Polar Radiances Arctic and Antarctic Sea Ice Concentrations CD-ROM series. The corrupt file is named 860318n.con. The file contains Northern Hemisphere sea ice for 18 March 1986.

There are no plans to replace this file because a revised SMMR time series is expected to be generated, which may result in a new sea ice product at some future time. Dr. Per Gloersen, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Code 971, is the producer of the CD-ROM series. The data are distributed for Dr. Gloersen by NSIDC.

Contact NSIDC User Services for further information on the SMMR CD-ROM series.


Dear Colleague,

The ASTER global glacier-monitoring project now has a name: GLIMS (Global Land Ice Monitoring with Satellites). "Glim," according to the Oxford Unabridged Dictionary, is an archaic Scottish term that means, "a passing look; a glimpse; as much as is seen at a glance." In a future historical perspective, we may well look back on GLIMS and other late- 20th century remote-sensing of Earth's glaciers as a glim of a passing or changing phenomenon.

If you are unfamiliar with ASTER (Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer) or with this project and would like to have further details please send an e-mail inquiry to me or to Bruce Raup (addresses are given below). For general information about ASTER consult the ASTER homepage (

We are continuing to develop the infrastructure for GLIMS. (Note Fall 1995 AGU poster and abstract A22D-9.) As part of this effort, we would like to start formal organization of regional glacier-monitoring working groups (regional centers) to help with planning for ASTER data acquisition and eventually with data analysis. These regional centers, to be established over the next couple of months, ultimately will take charge of ASTER imaging of all the glaciers in a given region (such as a nation or major physiographic province) and together will cover the world's glaciers. The short-term (next few months) objectives of each center will be to:

  1. Ensure that our ARCINFO database of that region's glaciers is as complete and accurate as possible.
  2. Prioritize glaciers in terms of importance and representativeness should it not be practical to acquire complete imaging. The objectives from next spring to ASTER's launch in June 1998, will be to:
  3. Provide information on the seasonal and regional climate variations pertinent to development of an observation strategy.
  4. Scrutinize and modify the regional glacier observation plan to ensure that it is optimum.
  5. Prepare for data analysis.

The long-term, mission-phase objectives of each regional center will be to perform the data analysis. Each regional center would perform, at a minimum, a standard analysis using a set of algorithms shared among all the centers. As we indicated in a previous Dear Colleague letter, we are interested in having a standardized analysis of glacier ice extent, glacier ice motion (where possible), the position of the transient snow line at the end of the melt season, and other basic scalar and vector quantities pertaining to the status and overall vigor of the world's glaciers. Any further types of analysis the regional center wishes to perform will be up to the center's discretion and resources. The data products of the standardized analysis will be relayed for archival at another center, currently planned as the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder. This database would be freely available for all (including people not associated with a regional center) to use.

We anticipate that the Flagstaff center will provide each regional center with algorithms and software for data analysis that will run under UNIX or DOS; another center will provide the digital imagery. The hardware and funding for data analysis will be the responsibility of each regional center. We anticipate that regional analysis will require the equivalent of at least one full-time dedicated technician, who is experienced with ARCINFO, and the equivalent of at least one professional glaciologist. ARCINFO will be required at each center, but because the algorithms to be used in data analysis will be provided, ARCINFO programming will not be necessary at each center.

If you are interested in forming or being part of a regional center, please let us know as soon as you have had time to think it over and weigh its advantages and disadvantages. We note that if it is just access to free data you want, the data will be available at very little cost through the Earth Observing System. We are looking for people who want to play an integral role in observation planning and data analysis. If interested, please let us know the region(s) for which you envisage managing or taking part in the analysis. Although the formation of preliminary regional centers will take place over the next couple of months, we recognize that it may take up to a year (or more) to formalize the arrangements as people look into their available resources and funding.

We are also interested in identifying people who believe they have algorithms that could be developed further for use by regional centers in this project.

Since our last Dear Colleague letter was sent out, the Flagstaff GLIMS project staff has been expanded to include Bruce Raup, a glaciologist who formerly worked with Tad Pfeffer and Mark Meier at INSTAAR. Bruce may be contacted at:

Bruce Raup
U.S. Geological Survey
2255 N. Gemini Drive
Flagstaff, Arizona 86001
Voice: (520) 556-7022 Fax: (520) 556-7014 e-mail:

Hugh Kieffer, PI for GLIMS and also at USGS, can be reached at: (520) 556-7015 (voice), (520) 556-7014 (fax), or (e-mail)

If anybody wants more information on ASTER and GLIMS, please contact me or Bruce Raup. Please share this message with anyone who is not on the IGS electronic bulletin board distribution list and who you think may be interested.


Jeffrey S. Kargel
U.S. Geological Survey
2255 N. Gemini Drive
Flagstaff, Arizona 86001
Voice: (520) 556-7034 Fax: (520) 556-7014 e-mail:
(changing soon to


Glacier Borehole Video/Purdue University

As part of a research project at the Haut Glacier d'Arolla, Switzerland, we have used a miniature borehole video camera to investigate the internal structure of the glacier. We have now produced a 24-minute composite video of the best parts of the recordings from summer 1995. The tape is intended as a resource for teachers of geomorphology and glaciology courses, as well as the general research community. It includes sections on:

  1. The process of hot water drilling on a glacier
  2. A journey down a borehole to see changes in ice structure with depth
  3. Englacial voids and channels
  4. The glacier bed
  5. Changes in water turbidity down a borehole
  6. Changes in hole orientation
  7. Drilling problems

The tape will be shown at the Association of American Geographers meeting in Charlotte in April 1996. Copies will be available there, or can be obtained by mail by writing to:

Luke Copland/Jon Harbor
Deptartment of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
Purdue University
West Lafayette, Indiana 47907

We are asking for a contribution of $10.00 to cover the costs of production and mailing to North American addresses. Please make checks payable to Purdue University, and add a note unrestricted gift to Harbor's research on the check itself. We are also able to produce copies of the tape in any format (e.g., PAL, NTSC, SECAM) for international requests. Please write by e-mail to discuss such requests by contacting, or

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Snow Water Equivalent CD-ROM

The National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center (NOHRSC) has recently completed production of the 1995 airborne snow water equivalent and satellite snow cover data CD-ROM. The data coverage includes major portions of the United States, including Alaska, and Canada. CD-ROMs are also available for the 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1994 snow mapping seasons. Each CD-ROM includes:

  1. airborne snow water equivalent data and the digitized flight line network;
  2. calibrated AVHRR and GOES satellite data;
  3. classified snow cover images based on AVHRR, GOES, and SSM/I satellite data;
  4. national and regional areal extent of snow cover and snow water equivalent products; and
  5. national surface air temperature products.

The cost of each CD-ROM is $50.00 (includes shipping charges).

For more information or to place an order, please contact: NOHRSC at (612) 361-6610 ext 232 or e-mail at

NOTE: NOHRSC products for the 1996 snow season are available from our Internet WWW site:


The next issue in our Glaciological Data series, GD-29, will be available in May 1996. This issue includes an extensive bibliography on the hydrology of the Himalaya-Karakoram region compiled by Gordon Young and Bhanu Neupane of the Cold Regions Research Centre, Wilfred Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

Snow and ice cover in the Karakoram Himalaya play a dominant role in the hydrology of south Asia and through their contribution to water supply, hydropower installations, and water-related hazards including river and glacier lake- outburst floods, and snow avalanches. Apart from hydrological considerations, Himalayan snow cover extent is a factor in the strength and timing of the Indian summer monsoon. The recession of glaciers in the Karakoram Himalaya is also a significant component of the contribution of mountain glaciers to global sea-level rise.

This bibliography is a welcome addition to the Glaciological Data series.

If you are not a regular subscriber and are interested in this issue, or would like to see a listing of all volumes available in the GD series, please contact NSIDC User Services.