Automated mapping of Earth's annual minimum exposed snow and ice with MODIS

Thomas H. Painter*, Mary J. Brodzik, Adina Racoviteanu, Richard Armstrong

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (SciVal)


Global snow and ice have been diminishing during the Anthropocene but we still lack a complete mapping of annual minimum exposed snow and ice with a consistent, repeatable algorithm. The Global Land Ice Measurements from Space (GLIMS) project has compiled digital glacier outlines and related metadata for the majority of the world's glaciers but inconsistency among product algorithms and time periods represented precludes the production of a consistently derived global data set. Here we present the MODIS Persistent Ice (MODICE) algorithm that leverages the time series of fractional snow and ice cover from the MODIS Snow Covered Area and Grain size (MODSCAG) algorithm. The end product of MODICE is a consistently derived map of annual minimum exposed snow and ice. Comparisons of MODICE with GLIMS glacier outlines derived from SPOT, ASTER, and Landsat Thematic Mapper show strong agreement with the higher resolution outlines subject to uncertainties with spatial resolution, deep mountain shadows, and GLIMS interpretation errors.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberL20501
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number20
Early online date24 Oct 2012
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • global
  • ice
  • snow


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