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Posted on December 3rd, 2019

Our Changing Landscape – Amalia Glacier

Click on the image above to see an animation of 5-meter natural color RapidEye imagery collected over Amalia Glacier in southern Chile on February 20, 2011 and March 2, 2016. And okay before we jump into a quick discussion of what you see here, a side note on images of glacier as they are exceedingly hard to process to true color. Consider that you have very bright surfaces (i.e. ice and snow) right next to very dark areas (i.e. mountain valleys), meaning we have to use photo editing software to bring out detail across the image – and this editing can create artifacts such as the hard edge of the glacier mass where it hits bare rock. All that said, these are very cool (perhaps very sad?) images that definitely show the recession of Amalia. Both images were collected during the start of the fall and if you check out the glacier’s edges, they have receded nearly uniformly in the 2016 image. Also note that there are fewer isolated pockets of ice and snow around Amalia and those that still exist have also shrunk. The Trump administration should spend some time checking out imagery of glaciers then maybe they will finally believe in climate change… (Images Courtesy: © Planet 2019)

In this monthly feature, we span the globe to examine Our Changing Landscape with a time series of medium resolution RapidEye satellite imagery. The RapidEye archive dates back to late 2008 and already contains more than 14 billion square kilometers of data. If you have read our newsletter before, you know we can get stuck on topics as we are here again so from Okjökull Glacier in Iceland we travel to the Southern Hemisphere for this Our Changing Landscape to Amalia Glacier in southern Chile.

The RapidEye Constellation

RapidEye is a constellation of five 5-meter (m) medium resolution satellites each offering five spectral bands of information. The RapidEye constellation offers daily revisits to every location on the planet with a huge footprint that is 77-km wide. The data is priced competitively with a starting cost of $1.28 per square kilometer for all five spectral bands – academics do receive discounts. RapidEye adds a fifth band, the red edge, to the ‘traditional’ multispectral set of blue, green, red and near-infrared (NIR). The additional spectral data in the red edge band allows users to extract more useful land ‘information’ than can be from traditional 4-band imagery sources. When RapidEye imagery is ordered as a Level 3A Orthorectified product, images from multiple dates are extremely well registered, making it the ideal data source for Our Changing Landscape.

The Recession of Amalia Glacier, Chile

The Southern Patagonian Ice Field is the second largest continuous ice field outside of the polar icecaps, second only to Greenland. The ice field covers some 12,000 square kilometer (~ 4,600 square miles) of the Andes, running mainly north to south along the Chile – Argentina border. Located 400 kilometers (~ 250 miles) northwest of Santa Cruz, Argentina is Bernardo O’Higgins National Park which is home to one of the most incredible glaciers we have ever seen in imagery, Amalia. Also known as Skua Glacier, the ice mass partially surrounds the northern half of Reclus and terminates in Sarmiento Channel. While we could try and focus on the shrinking of Amalia as it is receding along with the other glaciers in the world, admittedly it was difficult to find many scientific details about it. According to this resource, the glacier retreated at a very rapid rate from 1945 to 1975, losing nearly 270 meters (~ 885 feet) each year. Regardless of its rate of recession or future prospects of survival in our constantly warming climate, sometimes you have to sit back and just enjoy the imagery we peruse daily at Apollo Mapping – we hope you ‘enjoy’ (with a tear for the environment) these 5-meter RapidEye images as much as we did!

And if you do want some shocking stats on the recession of our planet’s glaciers, check out last month’s Our Changing Landscape

If you would like to find out more about using RapidEye for your academic studies, engineering projects or any landscape analysis, let us know at or (303) 993-3863.

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