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DOI 10.4461/GFDQ.2021.44.4

WHALLEY W.B.,

Mapping small glaciers, rock glaciers and
related features in an age of retreating glaciers: using decimal latitude-longitude
locations and ‘Geomorphic Information Tensors’.

Pages 53-65

Abstract

The need to study and record small, vanishing or vanished glaciers, moraines and rock glaciers, is examined with respect to climate changes since the Little Ice Age maximum. Geo-location, rather than just naming a location or inventory entry, should be used to allow comparisons with earlier records (in papers, as maps, images and inventories) and in subsequent research. Geo-locations can be given as metadata in texts, tables and figures with a decimal Latitude-Longitude (dLL) specified as a comma separated string. Linking a dLL to a topographic feature allows identification of and searching for landscape elements in a landsystem with a precision given by the decimal places used. Google EarthTM provides a convenient way to find a dLL as well as examine landform elements and relationships between those elements. A dLL defined location can also act as an origin for a transect, with a bearing incorporated as a three-element csv string. Locations and bearings can be derived from Google EarthTM as well as displayed on images. Information, such as slope elements, can be added to a transect to give a geo-referenced ‘geomorphic information tensor’. Examples show how these devices can be used to explore connectivity relationships between rock glaciers, debris-charged small glaciers and ice patches. This has implications for future mapping and inventories such as the Randolph Glacier Inventory as well as mapping sites of potential hazards.

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