The archipelago of Svalbard presently contains approximately 33,200 km2 of glaciers, with a large number of small valley glaciers as well as large areas of contiguous ice fields and ice caps. While a first glacier inventory was compiled in 1993, there has not been a readily available digital version. Here we present a new digital glacier database, which will be available through the GLIMS project. Glacier outlines have been created for the years 1936, 1966-71, 1990, and 2001-2010. For most glaciers, outlines are available from more than one of these years. A complete coverage of Svalbard is available for the 2001-2010 dataset. Glacier outlines were created using cartographic data from the original Norwegian Polar Institute topographic map series of Svalbard as basis by delineating individual glaciers and ice streams, assigning unique identification codes relating to the hydrological watersheds, digitizing center-lines, and providing a number of attributes for each glacier mask. The 2001-2010 glacier outlines are derived from orthorectified satellite images acquired from the SPOT-5 and ASTER satellite sensors. In areas where coverage for all time periods is available, the overwhelming majority of glaciers are observed to be in sustained retreat over the period from 1936-2010.
This study was conducted in a collaboration between the Department of Geoscience, University of Oslo, and the Norwegian Polar Institute, it was supported by the European Space Agency (ESA) through the projects Glaciers_CCI (4000101778/10/I-AM) and Cryoclim, which is also supported by the Norwegian Space Centre.