Glacier Mass Balance Monitoring

Determining whether a glacier is gaining more snow and ice mass than it loses through meltwaters and evaporation, or vice versa, is the study of glacier mass balance. Field monitoring of glacier mass gains and losses underpins much of what we understand about how glaciers interact with climate. Long-term records of glacier mass changes are of exceptional value to glaciological understanding and the development of glacier-scale, regional-scale and global-scale numerical models of glacier behaviour. Glacier mass balance data is collected and stored with the World Glacier Monitoring Service, and ACINN currently contributes data from three glaciers to this database; Hintereisferner, Kesselwandferner and Langenferner. Hintereisferner has one of the longest glacier mass balance records of any glacier worldwide, and as a result is one of 30 'reference' glaciers used in global glacier monitoring. Data from all three glaciers is used to perform detailed studies of glacier-climate interaction at ACINN, often involving supplementing the field measurements with additional installation of micro-meteorological equipment and application of state-of-the-art energy balance and atmospheric modelling tools.

WGM-report 2017:
WGMS (2017): Fluctuations of Glaciers Database. World Glacier Monitoring Service, Zurich, Switzerland. DOI:10.5904/wgms-fog-2017-06. Online access: