This book focuses on the complexities of glaciers as documented via satellite observations. The complexities drive much scientific interest in the subject. The essence—that the world’s glaciers and ice caps exhibit overwhelming retreat—is also developed by this book. In this introductory chapter, we aim at providing the reader with background information to better understand the integration of the glacier-mapping initiative known as Global Land Ice Measurements from Space (GLIMS, http://www.glims.org ) within the framework of internationally coordinated glacier-monitoring activities. The chapter begins with general definitions of perennial ice on land and its global coverage, followed by a section on the relation between glaciers and climate. Brief overviews on the specific history of internationally coordinated glacier monitoring and the global monitoring strategy for glaciers and ice caps are followed by a summary of available data. We introduce the potential and challenges of satellite remote sensing for glacier monitoring in the 21st century and emphasize the importance of integrative change assessments. Lastly, we provide a synopsis of the book structure as well as some concluding remarks on worldwide glacier monitoring.