First Advisor

Daniel M. Johnson

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geography




Glaciers -- Washington (State) -- Mount Rainier -- Databases, Geographic information systems, Glaciology



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, x, 139 p.)


This thesis explores the application of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to glaciology through the construction of a GIS database of glaciers on Mount Rainier, Washington (the Database). The volume and areal extent of these glaciers, and the temporal change to each, are calculated as a demonstration of GIS analytical capabilities. Data for Carbon, Cowlitz, Emmons, Nisqually, Tahoma, and Winthrop glaciers for the years 1913 and 1971 are derived from historic topographic maps. The Database includes two and three-dimensional representations of glacier geometry, such as glacier extent and topography, as well as surface features, such as debris cover. A test of four interpolation techniques reveals splining as the most accurate in the creation of three-dimensional glacier surfaces from digitized contour lines. Attribute data includes glacier morphology and metadata detailing the data quality of each glacier representation. These glaciers lost approximately 13% of their planimetric area and 17% of their volume between 1913 and 1971. Southern facing glaciers experienced significant terminus retreat while northern facing glaciers did not. GIS provides the computational framework and analytical tools with which diverse sources of glacier data with varying accuracies, resolutions, and projections can be compared and analyzed. However, error found within the original source data, or generated through data manipulation techniques, must be accounted for to foster analyses of known integrity. Recommendations for future development include the integration of remote sensing data; the creation of a customized user interface to facilitate query and display; and the development of spatial analysis techniques specific to glacier analysis.


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Persistent Identifier

Included in

Geography Commons