Date of Award

January 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Earth System Science & Policy

First Advisor

Jeffrey A. VanLooy


Changes that are occurring on glaciers have received immense attention globally as well as in the Wind River Range, Wyoming. Glaciers in the Wind River Range have experienced accelerated thinning which has been mostly attributed to increased local and global temperatures by a number of authors. This research seeks to examine the impacts of albedo on glacier thinning and shrinkage in the Wind River Range since there has been little research done in that regard. The study used the green and the near infrared bands of the 30m resolution Landsat imagery to calculate albedo. Temperature and precipitation data were also retrieved from the Parameter-elevation Regressions on Independent Slopes Model (PRISM) Climate Group while other terrain derived variables such as slope, aspect and solar radiation were obtained from 30m resolution SRTM DEM and Airbus DEM. In estimate glacier surface elevation change, the geodetic method was used. The study showed a significant decrease in glacier surface albedo in the Wind River Range using the Mann Kendall statistics test. Generally, enhanced melting across the Wind River Range was revealed from 2012 to 2019 as compared to the earlier period estimations between 1999 and 2012. Stepwise regression analysis was then utilized in modeling the surface elevation change and the variables using data from 1999 to 2012. The model was then applied to the second period (2012 – 2019) and validated using the geodetic surface elevation change of the same period. The comparison revealed a close alignment of the modeled and geodetic surface elevation change at the lower elevation ranges but divergent at the higher elevation ranges. Nonetheless, albedo proved to be a strong predictor in all the five models and could offer the possibility as a proxy for surface elevation change. It is still however worth noting that further investigation is needed for the model at higher elevation ranges.