First globally complete glacier inventory created

An international group of scientists – more than 70 scientists from 18 countries - have mapped all of the world’s glaciers. Glaciologists can now study with unprecedented accuracy the impacts of a changing climate on glaciers worldwide and determine their total extent and volume on a glacier-by-glacier basis. Overall, glaciers cover an area of about 730,000 km2 and have a volume of about 170,000 km3. Each of the nearly 200,000 glaciers in the new inventory is represented by a computer-readable outline, making precise modelling of glacier–climate interactions much easier.

Teaser: First globally complete glacier inventory created
Immagine: Landsat ETM+, Bildbearbeitung: Tobias Bloch (UZH/TUD)

The main reason for completing the inventory was the recently-published Fifth Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Several studies that relied on earlier versions of the so called Randolph Glacier Inventory (RGI) were essential sources for that assessment. The tight schedule of the IPCC’s assessment required rapid completion, which was accomplished largely through relying on the unsupported efforts of many volunteers with limited resources, the intensive use of satellite data and the application of geoinformatic techniques.

The already existing but incomplete database of GLIMS (Global Land Ice Measurements from Space) was an essential springboard and contributed the baseline dataset for the RGI. Several projects funded by space agencies such as ESA and NASA, the Framework 7 Programme of the European Union, and several Universities gave essential financial support to accomplish the RGI in time. Finally, the support of the International Association of Cryospheric Sciences (IACS) and the International Arctic Science Council (IASC) enabled several meetings of the coordinating group.

Link to the Randolph Glacier Inventory [1]

Text Source and Link to Publication: Technische Universität Dresden [2]


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