Ground-penetrating radar has been widely used to map the thermal structure of polythermal glaciers. Hitherto, the cold–temperate transition surface (CTS) in radargrams has been identified by a labour-intensive and subjective manual picking method. We introduce a new automatic approach for picking the CTS that uses the difference in signal power exhibited by the cold and temperate ice layers. We compare our automatically computed CTS depths with manual picks. Our results show very good agreement between the two methods in most areas (r
2 > 0.7). RMSEs computed at each trace in two-way travel-time from three test sites range from 14 to 19ns (2.4–3.2 m). The proposed automated method mostly fails in areas showing a rather gradual transition in signal power at the CTS. In some areas, high power originating from non-water sources is misinterpreted by the automatic picking method as ‘temperate ice’.