Concerns over greenhouse‐gas forcing and global temperatures have initiated research into understanding climate forcing and associated Earth‐system responses. A significant component is the Earth's cryosphere, as glacier‐related, feedback mechanisms govern atmospheric, hydrospheric and lithospheric response. Predicting the human and natural dimensions of climate‐induced environmental change requires global, regional and local information about ice‐mass distribution, volumes, and fluctuations. The Global Land‐Ice Measurements from Space (GLIMS) project is specifically designed to produce and augment baseline information to facilitate glacier‐change studies. This requires addressing numerous issues, including the generation of topographic information, anisotropic‐reflectance correction of satellite imagery, data fusion and spatial analysis, and GIS‐based modeling. Field and satellite investigations indicate that many small glaciers and glaciers in temperate regions are downwasting and retreating, although detailed mapping and assessment are still required to ascertain regional and global patterns of ice‐mass variations. Such remote sensing/GIS studies, coupled with field investigations, are vital for producing baseline information on glacier changes, and improving our understanding of the complex linkages between atmospheric, lithospheric, and glaciological processes.