Glacier and snow cover changes with related impacts on melt runoff can seriously affect human societies which are depending on fresh water from cryospheric sources. Observed trends and projected future evolutions of climatic and cryospheric variables clearly show the need to adapt to these changes. Accordingly, the topics addressed herein have been put on the agendas of many larger funding agencies. This article provides a brief overview on major ongoing activities on glacier, snow and related runoff research in order to then analyze data gaps and research needs from a climate change adaptation perspective. Major data needs are identified with respect to the spatial and temporal coverage of local-scale data and related needs for (data) services that distribute and maintain these data sets. Moreover, clear research needs are also recognized at the local scale where process knowledge needs to be improved (e.g., the influence of albedo on snow and ice or debris cover on glaciers) in order to derive plausible climate change impacts assessments. The paper then discusses directions on how to move forward to better serve the practical needs for climate change adaptation planning. In the future, substantial support by large funding agencies might be key for capacity building in target regions of climate change adaptation programs, for longer-term and more sustainable commitments, and for the development of approaches, which aim at assessing the transferability of data, techniques, and tools.