Quick Search:

uzh logo
Browse by:

Zurich Open Repository and Archive

Maintenance: Tuesday, July the 26th 2016, 07:00-10:00

ZORA's new graphical user interface will be relaunched (For further infos watch out slideshow ZORA: Neues Look & Feel). There will be short interrupts on ZORA Service between 07:00am and 10:00 am. Please be patient.

Permanent URL to this publication: http://dx.doi.org/10.5167/uzh-25408

Zemp, M; Hoelzle, M; Haeberli, W (2009). Six decades of glacier mass-balance observations: a review of the worldwide monitoring network. Annals of Glaciology, 50(50):101-111.

View at publisher


Glacier mass balance is the direct and undelayed response to atmospheric conditions and hence is among the essential variables required for climate system monitoring. It has been recognized as the largest non-steric contributor to the present rise in sea level. Six decades of annual mass-balance data have been compiled and made easily available by the World Glacier Monitoring Service and its predecessor organizations. In total, there have been 3480 annual mass-balance measurements reported from 228 glaciers around the globe. However, the present dataset is strongly biased towards the Northern Hemisphere and Europe and there are only 30 'reference' glaciers that have uninterrupted series going back to 1976. The available data from the six decades indicate a strong ice loss as early as the 1940s and 1950s followed by a moderate mass loss until the end of the 1970s and a subsequent acceleration that has lasted until now, culminating in a mean overall ice loss of over 20 m w.e. for the period 1946-2006. In view of the discrepancy between the relevance of glacier mass-balance data and the shortcomings of the available dataset it is strongly recommended to: (1) continue the long-term measurements; (2) resume interrupted long-term data series; (3) replace vanishing glaciers by early-starting replacement observations; (4) extend the monitoring network to strategically important regions; (5) validate, calibrate and accordingly flag field measurements with geodetic methods; and (6) make systematic use of remote sensing and geo-informatics for assessment of the representativeness of the available data series for their entire mountain range and for the extrapolation to regions without in situ observations; and (7) make all these data and related meta-information available.


96 citations in Web of Science®
99 citations in Scopus®
Google Scholar™



0 downloads since deposited on 15 Jan 2010
12 downloads since 12 months

Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Deposited On:15 Jan 2010 15:37
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 13:37
Publisher:International Glaciological Society
Publisher DOI:10.3189/172756409787769591

Users (please log in): suggest update or correction for this item

Repository Staff Only: item control page