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Department of Geography

World Glacier Monitoring Service

The World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) is an international data repository as well as an international data analyzing service, operating under the auspices of the International Science Council, the United Nations, and the World Meteorological Organization. As such, the 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 WGMS is hosted at the Department of Geography and is jointly supported by the University Zurich and by the Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss within the framework of GCOS Switzerland. As such, the WGMS is an independent research unit and contributes to research and teaching of the Department, in close collaboration with the Glaciology and Geomorphodynamics Group (3G). The WGMS staff trains students in the monitoring of glaciers and supervises Bachelor, Master and PhD theses on glacier-related topics.

Since 2021, the WGMS has been recognized as official UZH Technology Platform and contributes to research excellence by providing professional and efficient access to its data, information, and services in collaboration with its worldwide collaboration network.

More information on the WGMS can be found here



  • European State of the Climate 2022

    The Copernicus Climate Change Service, on behalf of the European Commission, released the European State of the Climate 2022 report. The World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) contributed glacier data and analyses.

  • Heat stored in the Earth system 1960–2020: where does the energy go?

    Our "out-of-balance" Earth accumulates more energy than it loses. But how much and where? An international, multidisciplinary research team used carefully calibrated, cross-checked, and well-documented data from the ocean, land, ice, and atmosphere. The World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) contributed the glacier data and calculations.

  • Which glaciers are the largest in the world?

    This question is often asked but not easily answered. It depends on how a glacier is defined and on the availability, quality and consistency of digital glacier outlines at a global scale. A joint paper by the US National Snow and Ice Data Center and the World Glacier Monitoring Service now provides the answer.

  • New intercomparison exercise approved by ESA

    In response to ESA's Polar Science Cluster, a joint consortium by the WGMS, the University of Edinburgh, and Earthwave successfully proposed a "Glacier Mass Balance Intercomparison Exercise" (GlaMBIE)

  • Gletscher - Gradmesser der globalen Erderwärmung

    Im Rahmen der Ausstellung «Earth Beats» am Kunsthaus Zürich sind Podcasts mit Expert:innen aus vielen Wissensgebieten entstanden. Einer davon ist der Gletscherforscher Samuel Nussbaumer.

Weiterführende Informationen


University of Zurich
Department of Geography
Winterthurerstrasse 190
CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland
Tel: +41 44 635 51 39


WGMS Events


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