USGS Glacier Studies
Glaciers have long captured the interest of scientists, but their value as indicators of climate change and their environmental and socio-economic impacts have come to the forefront of contemporary scientific research. Glaciers store precipitation as ice, transport it away from where it was deposited, then release it as water, sometimes centuries or millennia later. As we continue to learn how glaciers respond to climate change, the close linkages to ecosystems and human populations far beyond their local environment becomes increasingly apparent.
Scientists with the USGS Glaciology Project study many of the pertinent impacts that glaciers present to society, such as altering hydrologic cycles, contributing to sea-level rise, and creating environmental hazards. Having progressed from early studies which focused on understanding where and why glaciers exist, and their primary response to climate, the Glaciology Project's objective today is to advance the quantitative understanding of glacier-climate interactions to best predict and prepare for local, regional, and global implications of changes to Earth's mountain glaciers and ice sheets. With a firm foundation of long-term records, the USGS Glaciology Project continues to broaden its value and impact by incorporating new technologies and expertise over a diverse suite of glaciological challenges.