Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Geography & Environmental Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Gordon J. Young

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


The historical information concerning the Peyto Glacier is plentiful, especially with regards to terrestrial photographs. The information available dates from 1896 to present day. The glacier has been studied intensively since the 1960’s. The purpose of this thesis is to document a comprehensive historical record and determine volumetric changes of the Peyto Glacier, 1896-1966.

Changes in the extent of Peyto Glacier, Alberta are determined for the period 1896-1966. Data sources used include terrestrial photographs of Peyto Glacier from 1896, 1902 and 1917, the 1917 Alberta-British Columbia Interprovincial Boundary Commission Survey map and the 1966 map of the Peyto Glacier produced by the Canadian Government. The 1896 and 1902 photographs give partial coverage of the ablation area. Glacier extents, within the constraints of vision, are plotted for 1896. Superimposing this outline and the 1917 digital coverage on the 1966 map, changes in area are calculated. Assuming that surface configuration has not dramatically altered, surface shape is then inferred. Volumetric change results for 1896-1917 and 1917-1966 are derived through the use of Arc-Info, the geographical information system.

The area of the glacier in 1896 has been calculated to be 16.74km2, and 16.02km2 in 1917. The area of the Peyto Glacier in 1966, as determined from the digital output by Glenday (1991), was determined to be 13.11 km2. This area however, slightly differs from the estimate made by the Canadian Government of 13.40 km2 for the same year. The area determined in this thesis was 12.94km2. The volumetric change of the Peyto Glacier for the time period of 1896-1917 has been determined to be 388.2 x 106m3. The resulting volumetric change determined for the time period of 1917-1966 is 700.3 x 106m3. The total volume loss of the glacier for the 70 year period is 1088.5 x 106m3.

Within the parameters of a study such as this, historical data can be utilized with the use of correct assumptions. However, it must be understood that even with these assumptions unexpected inaccuracies can arise from historical data. The production of TIN models from GIS systems to determine the volumetric change of glaciers through the use of historical data are an efficient and inexpensive method.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season


Included in

Glaciology Commons