The World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS)

Since the 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 ongoing glacier changes, when the two former ICSI services PSFG (Permanent Service on Fluctuations of Glaciers) and TTS/WGI (Temporal Technical Secretary/World Glacier Inventory) were combined. As a contribution to the Global Environment Monitoring System (GEMS/GTOS) of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and to the International Hydrological Programme (IHP) of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the WGMS of the Union Commission for the Cryospheric Sciences (UCCS) and the Federation of Astronomical and Geophysical Data Analysis Services (FAGS/ICSU) today collects and publishes worldwide standardized glacier data. At present, the WGMS gets important financial and logistic support from the University of Zürich and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich. The tasks of the WGMS are to continuously upgrade, collect and periodically publish glacier inventory and fluctuation data as well as to include satellite observations of remote glaciers and to assess ongoing changes. 


Michael Zemp
Department of Geography
University of Zurich
Winterthurerstrasse 190
8057 Zurich
Switzerland or