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USGS Educational Resources

Alaska and the Arctic | Antarctica | Climate Change | Photographs | Satellite Imagery | Wildlife | Other USGS Resources | See entire resources index


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Glaciers and Ice

Permafrost Monitoring

What is it?What Can I Do With It?What Does It Look Like?

The U.S. Department of the Interior's DOI permafrost network in Alaska is part of a global network of permafrost monitoring stations that monitor for changes in the solid–earth component of the Earth's cryosphere.

Use this Web resource to understand how permafrost is monitored and why it is important in polar research. Learn more…

Permafrost Monitoring

Benchmark Glacier Studies

What is it?What Can I Do With It?What Does It Look Like?

The USGS operates a long–term "benchmark" glacier program to monitor climate, glacier geometry, glacier mass balance, glacier motion, and stream runoff. The data collected are used to understand glacier–related hydrologic processes and improve the quantitative prediction of water resources, glacier–related hazards, and the consequences of climate change.

Understand the significance of glaciers and the information they can provide to the scientific community. Learn more…

Coastal-Change and Glaciological Maps of Antarctica

What is it?What Can I Do With It?What Does It Look Like?

This fact sheet outlines USGS efforts to map coastal change and glaciology in Antarctica and includes an index map showing the locations and names of the 23 published and planned 1:1,000,000–scale coastal–change and glaciological maps of the continent.

Use this fact sheet to learn about the role coastal change and glaciology play in global climate change research and what the USGS is doing in these areas. Learn more…

Coastal–Change and Glaciological Maps of Antarctica

Glacial Hazards Research

What is it?What Can I Do With It?What Does It Look Like?

The USGS conducts research on glacial hazards, such as avalanches, volcanoes, and more.

Learn about glacial hazards and the contributions that the USGS makes to this field, including a glossary of glacier–related terms. Learn more…

Glacial Hazards Research

Glacier Studies Project

What is it?What Can I Do With It?What Does It Look Like?

The Glacier Studies Project includes two active tasks: the Satellite Image Atlas of Glaciers of the World and the Coastal–Change and Glaciological Maps of Antarctica. Glaciers are one of the four sub–elements of the cryosphere [the other three are snow cover, floating ice (sea, lake, and river ice), and permafrost]. The cryosphere is particularly sensitive to changes in regional and global climate.

See the status of the satellite image atlas of the world and the glaciological maps of Antarctica, with links to additional USGS publications on glaciations and other sites. Learn more…

Also, view scans of selected 35mm slides on glaciers. Learn more…

Glacier Studies Project

Glaciers: Clues to Future Climate?

What is it?What Can I Do With It?What Does It Look Like?

This is an introductory booklet about glaciers and climate change.

Understand how climate change is monitored and why it is important to the planet. Learn more…

Glaciers: Clues to Future Climate?

Global Ice Core Research

What is it?What Can I Do With It?What Does It Look Like?

The USGS studies ice cores recovered from glaciers to learn about Earth´s past environmental conditions. Every year, a layer of snow accumulates on glaciers and eventually turns to ice. Like reading the pages of a history book, analyzing the layers in a glacial ice core for specific chemical and physical components is a way of “reading” the environmental changes of the past.

Use this resource to investigate data from ice cores collected from Greenland and Antarctica to get a better understanding of modern global environmental changes. Learn more…

Global Ice Core Research

The National Ice Core Laboratory

What is it?What Can I Do With It?What Does It Look Like?

The NICL holds 15,000 meters of ice cores from ice–covered regions of the world as an archive of the earth's climate history and of the composition of its atmosphere, including greenhouse gases. The NICL serves as a gathering place for U.S. and foreign climate and atmospheric researchers.

Use the National Ice Core Laboratory site to investigate why ice cores are such an excellent recorder of Earth´s climatic history and what they tell about what the climate has done during the past half million years. Also, take a tour of the Laboratory if you are in Colorado. Learn more…

The National Ice Core Laboratory

Monthly Average Polar Sea Ice Concentration

What is it?What Can I Do With It?What Does It Look Like?

This data set provides paleoclimate researchers with a tool for estimating the average seasonal variation in sea–ice concentration in the modern polar oceans and for estimating the modern monthly sea–ice concentration at any given polar oceanic location.

Learn about the seasonal variation in sea ice with this extensive data set. Learn more…

Monthly Average Polar Sea Ice Concentration

Photography Project, Glacier National Park, Montana

What is it?What Can I Do With It?What Does It Look Like?
This project describes methods of documenting landscape change. These striking images are created by pairing historic images with contemporary photos and have given global warming a face and made climate change a relevant issue.

Investigate glacial ice and vegetation changes at Glacier National Park during the past 100 years. The images are an effective visual means to help viewers understand that climate change contributes to the dynamic landscape changes so evident in Glacier National Park. Learn more…

Photography Project, Glacier National Park

Satellite Image Atlas of Glaciers of the World
(USGS Professional Paper 1386)

What is it?What Can I Do With It?What Does It Look Like?

Between 1979 and 1981, satellite images were distributed to a team of 70 scientists from 25 nations and 45 institutions, who are authoring sections of this paper concerning either a geographic area (chapters B–K) or a glaciological topic (included in Chapter A—State of the Earth´s Cryosphere). Chapters thus far include Antarctica, Greenland, Europe, Turkey–Iran–Africa, Indonesia and New Zealand, South America, and North America.

Study glaciers of the world, and associated population and natural and environmental implications through this series of well–illustrated and visually stunning satellite image atlases. Learn more…

Satellite Image Atlas of Glaciers of the World

Satellite Image Atlas of Glaciers of the World—Antarctica
(USGS Professional Paper 1386-B)

What is it?What Can I Do With It?What Does It Look Like?

This paper offers detailed reports, images, graphs, and maps of Antarctica ´s glaciers, their movement and change, and implications for the planet.

Study glaciers of Antarctica, and associated regional and global natural and environmental implications, through this well–illustrated and visually stunning satellite image atlas. Learn more…

Satellite Image Atlas of Glaciers of the World—Antarctica

Strategy for Monitoring Glaciers

What is it?What Can I Do With It?What Does It Look Like?

This circular outlines glacier study methods—glaciers affect the volume, variability, and water quality of runoff. Assessing and predicting the effect of glaciers on water resources require a monitoring program to provide basic data to understand them. The monitoring program of the USGS employs a nested approach whereby an intensively studied glacier is surrounded by less intensively studied glaciers and those monitored solely by remote sensing.

Use this report to learn about a method for monitoring glaciers, an important feature in understanding the hydrologic cycle, polar processes, and climate. Learn more…

A Strategy for Monitoring Glaciers

The Great Ice Age

What is it?What Can I Do With It?What Does It Look Like?

This booklet discusses the Ice Age and its impact on the Earth´s surface.

Use this booklet to get an overview of the Ice Age, the times when continental glaciers advanced, the impact that the Ice Age had on the history of the Earth, and why it is relevant today. Learn more…

The Great Ice Age

Velocities of Outlet Glaciers

What is it?What Can I Do With It?What Does It Look Like?

This report summarizes the results of velocity measurements of outlet glaciers, ice streams, and ice shelves around the Antarctic periphery. Changes in global climate and sea level are intricately linked to changes in the area and volume of polar ice sheets. Thus, melting of the ice sheets may severely impact the densely populated coastal regions on Earth. Melting of the West Antarctic ice sheet alone could raise sea level by approximately 5 meters. A critical parameter of ice sheets is their velocity field, which, together with ice thickness, allows the determination of discharge rates.

Use this site to investigate the velocity of outlet glaciers to understand climate and sea level change. Learn more…

Velocities of Outlet Glaciers

Astrogeology Ice and Polar Research

What is it?What Can I Do With It?What Does It Look Like?

The mission of the USGS Astrogeology Research Program is to establish and maintain geoscientific and technical expertise in planetary science and remote sensing to scientifically study and map extraterrestrial bodies, plan and conduct planetary exploration missions, and explore and develop new technologies in data processing, analysis, archiving, and distribution.

Learn about the use of the world's glaciers to monitor climate change, read research papers from workshops on planetary ices and on volcano ice, and investigate results of searching for ice on Mars. Learn more…

USGS Astrogeology Ice and Polar Research

GLIMS — Global Land Ice Measurements from Space

What is it?What Can I Do With It?What Does It Look Like?

GLIMS is a project designed to monitor the world's glaciers primarily using data from the ASTER (Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and reflection Radiometer) instrument aboard the EOS Terra spacecraft, launched in 1999.

The USGS acquires an annual image of all the world's glaciers. GLIMS includes software for tracking glaciers' location, areal extent, and velocity; a network of global centers that monitor the glaciers in their regions.

Use GLIMS to investigate the status of the Earth´s glaciers, including reports and presentations. This site includes an interactive GLIMS glacier map viewer, where you can download map data for use to analyze with geographic information systems software. Learn more…

Global Land Ice Measurements from Space

Water Storage in Ice and Snow

What is it?What Can I Do With It?

These facts and discussion focus on the volume and distribution of freshwater on the Earth and the role of ice in the water cycle.

Use this informative set of tables, text, and images and related links to learn about the importance of polar ice on the Earth. Learn more…

Proceedings from the Workshop on the Interaction of Volcanoes and Ice on the Earth and Mars

What is it?What Can I Do With It?What Does It Look Like?

This 62–page report covers the proceedings of a workshop held in Iceland in 2000 by scientists from the USGS and many other organizations.

Investigate the processes and causes and effects of volcanoes and ice on the Earth and on Mars by reading the papers and following the links in this report. Learn more…

Workshop on the Interaction of Volcanoes and Ice on the Earth and Mars

Time–Dependent Topography Through the Glacial Cycle
(IGBP PAGES/World Data Center-A for Paleoclimatology Data Contribution Series #93-015)

What is it?What Can I Do With It?What Does It Look Like?

This data set shows how the topography of continental ice cover changed during the last glacial cycle. The data come from a model because true measurements are not available for this prehistoric time.

Use this data to examine topographical heights and ice–cover data at 1,000–year intervals since the last glacial maximum. Learn more…

Time–Dependent Topography Through the Glacial Cycle

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