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https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2020-158
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2020-158
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  18 Sep 2020

18 Sep 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

Rock glaciers of the contiguous United States: GIS inventory and spatial distribution patterns

Gunnar Johnson1, Heejun Chang2, and Andrew Fountain3 Gunnar Johnson et al.
  • 1Environmental Science Department, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, 97201, USA
  • 2Geography Department, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, 97201, USA
  • 3Geology Department, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, 97201, USA

Abstract. Continental-scale inventories of glaciers are available, but no analogous rock glacier inventories exist. We present the Portland State University Rock Glacier Inventory (n = 10,343) for the contiguous United States, derived from the manual classification of remote sensing imagery (Johnson 2020, https://doi.pangaea.de/10.1594/PANGAEA.918585). Individually, these rock glaciers are found across widely disparate montane environments, but their overall distribution unambiguously favors relatively high, arid mountain ranges with sparse vegetation. While at least one rock glacier is identified in each of the 11 westernmost states, nearly 88 % are found in just five states: Colorado (n = 3889), Montana (n = 1813), Idaho (n = 1689), Wyoming (n = 850), and Utah (n = 834). Mean rock glacier area is estimated at 0.10 km2, with cumulative rock glacier area totaling 1008.91 km2. Rock glaciers are assigned to a three-tier classification system based on area thresholds and surface characteristics known to correlate with downslope movement. Class 1 features (n = 7052, average area = 0.12 km2) appear to be highly active, Class 2 features (n = 2416, average area = 0.05 km2) appear to be intermediately active and Class 3 features (n = 875, average area = 0.04 km2) appear to be minimally active. This geospatial inventory will allow past rock glacier research findings to be spatially extrapolated, help facilitate further rock glacier research by identifying field study sites, and serve as a valuable training set for the development of automated rock glacier identification and classification methods applicable to other large regional studies.

Gunnar Johnson et al.

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Rock Glacier Inventory of the Contiguous United States (PSURGI) Johnson, Gunnar http://doi.pangaea.de/10.1594/PANGAEA.918585

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Short summary
We present the Portland State University Rock Glacier Inventory (n = 10,343) for the contiguous United States, derived from manual classification of remote sensing imagery. This geospatial inventory will allow past rock glacier research findings to be spatially extrapolated, facilitate further rock glacier research by identifying field study sites, and serve as a valuable training set for the development of automated rock glacier identification methods applicable to other large regional studies.
We present the Portland State University Rock Glacier Inventory (n = 10,343) for the contiguous...
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