Remote Sensing of the Cryosphere


In the module Remote Sensing of the Cryosphere, students will be introduced to the physical principles of remote sensing, standard remotely sensed image processing techniques, and a range of applied examples in the cryospheric sciences.

The syllabus will contain an introduction to electromagnetic radiation theory, sensor types, and a variety of digital image processing techniques including:

  • Image acquisition
  • Geometric and radiometric correction
  • Image enhancement
  • Vegetation
  • Snow and ice indices
  • Image classification
  • Change detection and accuracy assessment

In addition to this theoretical background, students will learn specific technical skills through targeted practical sessions and classroom assessments and critically engage with the key debates in the cryospheric sciences, including:

  • Monitoring snow cover and snow-water equivalent
  • Glacier and ice cap change
  • Ice sheet mass balance
  • Iceberg tracking
  • Sea ice extent and thickness monitoring
  • Assessing glacier hazards
  • Monitoring change of freshwater (lake) ice and permafrost

Practical sessions will be conducted to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills. The module will develop key technical, analytical and critical skills for applying emergent earth observation and geospatial technologies to problems in the cryospheric sciences.


  • Computer practicals
  • Examination

Key skills

  • Critical thinking
  • Data management and exploration
  • Spatial analytical GIS
  • Remote sensing image interpretation
  • Raster map algebra
  • Image classification
  • Time-series analysis