Measuring glacier surface temperatures with ground-based thermal infrared imaging

Caroline Aubry-Wake, Michel Baraer, Jeffrey M. McKenzie, Bryan G. Mark, Oliver Wigmore, Robert Hellström, Laura Lautz, Lauren Somers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Spatially distributed surface temperature is an important, yet difficult to observe, variable for physical glacier melt models. We utilize ground-based thermal infrared imagery to obtain spatially distributed surface temperature data for alpine glaciers. The infrared images are used to investigate thermal microscale processes at the glacier surface, such as the effect of surface cover type and the temperature gradient at the glacier margins on the glacier's temperature dynamics. Infrared images were collected at Cuchillacocha Glacier, Cordillera Blanca, Peru, on 23-25 June 2014. The infrared images were corrected based on ground truth points and local meteorological data. For the control points, the Pearson's correlation coefficient between infrared and station temperatures was 0.95. The ground-based infrared camera has the potential for greatly improving glacier energy budget studies, and our research shows that it is critical to properly correct the thermal images to produce robust, quantifiable data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8489-8497
Number of pages9
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 28 2015


  • Peru
  • Thermal imagery
  • energy budget
  • glacier
  • infrared camera
  • temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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