World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS)

Since this beginning of internationally coordinated systematic observations on glacier variations in 1894, a valuable and increasingly important data basis on glacier changes has been built up. In 1986 the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) started to maintain and continue the collection of information on glacier changes, when the two former ICSI services PSFG (Permanent Service on Fluctuations of Glaciers) and TTS/WGI (Temporal Technical Secretariat/World Glacier Inventory) were combined.

Today, the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) collects standardized observations on changes in mass, volume, area and length of glaciers with time (glacier fluctuations), as well as statistical information on the distribution of perennial surface ice in space (glacier inventories). Such glacier fluctuation and inventory data are high priority key variables in climate system monitoring; they form a basis for hydrological modelling with respect to possible effects of atmospheric warming, and provide fundamental information in glaciology, glacial geomorphology and quaternary geology. The highest information density is found for the Alps and Scandinavia, where long and uninterrupted records are available.

WGMS office is located at the University of Zurich and the University of Fribourg is an associated partner.

Results are published regularly in different reports, which can be found on the official WGMS Website.




Location of the 3735 glaciers for which data is available from the WGMS.

This overview includes 151 glaciers with reported mass balance data for the observation periods 2011/12 and 2012/13, and 40 ‘reference‘ glaciers with well-documented and independently calibrated, long-term mass balance programmes based on the glaciological method (source: WGMS 2015).

Duration: not limited

Funded by: MeteoSchweiz (GCOS Schweiz)

Collaborators: M. Hoelzle, University of Fribourg, Matthias Huss (National Correspondent for Switzerland)



Prof. Martin Hoelzle

Department of Geosciences

University of Fribourg
Chemin du Musée 4

CH–1700 Fribourg

   +41 26 300 90 21