Rock glacier inventory of Switzerland (SwissRG2020)

Rock glaciers are the most common landforms associated with the mountain periglacial (permafrost) landscape. They are essential periglacial features, which can be used as proxy for the past or present occurrence of permafrost as well as for paleo-climate reconstruction. Additionally, they are highly relevant for the study of geohazards, of the hydrological significance of mountain permafrost and of the impacts of climate change.

In Switzerland, rock glaciers have been inventoried in several regions over the last decades. However, these inventories used different methodologies, relied on data of uneven quality and availability and were performed at different period making them impossible to combine into one general uniform inventory. This initiative thus intends to produce a complete and standardized rock glacier inventory of the Swiss Alps reflecting the situation around 2020 by implementing the international standard guidelines currently in elaboration within the IPA Action groupRock glacier inventories and kinematics”. Following a preparatory phase, during which the concrete guidelines and practical issues will be resolved, the complete inventory will be realized (2022-2024). The final product will be reviewed by experts and finalized (2024-2025) before its release.


Collaborators: Reynald Delaloye, Chloé Barboux, Isabelle Gärtner-Roer (UZH), Christophe Lambiel (UNIL), Cécile Pellet, Marcia Phillips (SLF), Cristian Scapozza (SUPSI)

Contact: SwissRG2020[at]

Duration: 2020-2025

Study area: Swiss Alps

  • Illustrations
  • Collaboration

    University of Lausanne, Institute of Earth surface dynamics (C. Lambiel)

    University of Zürich, Department of Geography (I. Gärtner-Roer)

    WSL institute for snow and avalanches research SLF, Davos (M. Phillips & J. Noetzli)

    Institute of Earth Sciences, SUPSI, Canobbio (C. Scapozza)

  • Publications
    • Ambrosi, C., Castelletti, C., Scapozza, C., Czerski, D., Schenker, F., 2018. The new landslide and rock glacier inventory map of Canton Ticino. Geophysical Research Abstracts 20, EGU2018-2358, General Assembly 2018.

    • Barboux, C., Delaloye R., Lambiel, C., 2014. Inventorying slope movements in an Alpine environment using DInSAR. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 39/15, 2087-2099. DOI: 10.1002/esp.3603

    • Delaloye R., Morand, S., 1998. Les glaciers rocheux de la région d’Entremont (Alpes valaisannes): inventaire et analyse spatiale à l’aide d’un SIG. Mitt. VAW / ETH Zürich 158, 75-86

    • Lambiel, C., Reynard, E., 2003. Cartographie de la distribution du pergélisol et datation des glaciers rocheux dans la région du Mont Gelé (Valais). Entwicklungstendenzen und Zukunftsperspektiven in der Geomorphologie, Physische Geographie, Zürich 41, 91-104.

    • Phillips, M., Reynard, E., 1996. Influence régionale du climat et de la morphologie sur la distribution du permafrost: l’exemple des Hautes Alpes Calcaires. Rapports de recherche UKPIK 8, Institut de Géographie, Université de Fribourg, 197-206.