EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Global Glacier Mass Loss estimated from GRACE and GRACE-FO Satellite Observations (2002-2019)

Bert Wouters1,2, Alex Gardner3, Geir Moholdt4, and Ingo Sasgen5
Bert Wouters et al.
  • 1Utrecht University, Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, Department of Physics, Utrecht, Netherlands (
  • 2Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Delft University of Technology, Delft, Netherlands
  • 3Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, United States
  • 4Norwegian Polar Institute, Fram Centre, Tromsø, Norway
  • 5Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung, Bremerhaven, Germany

Glaciers outside of the ice sheets are important contributors to sea level rise. Although their overall mass balances can be estimated by upscaling local field measurement, direct observations with global coverage are only feasible with satellite remote sensing.  Satellite gravimetry of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) showed that between 2002 and 2016, glaciers lost mass at a rate of 199 ± 32 Gt yr−1, equivalent to a cumulative sea level contribution of 8 mm. After about one year of interruption following the end of the GRACE science operations in June 2017, GRACE Follow-On (GRACE-FO) now allows us to extend the time series of its predecessor starting June 2018.

In this work, we provide updated estimates of the global glacier annual mass balance for 2002 and 2019 based on GRACE/GRACE-FO, and present regional changes with a focus on recent years. Furthermore, we discuss the different uncertainties entering our mass balances and compare our estimates to those based on upscaling in-situ measurements.

How to cite: Wouters, B., Gardner, A., Moholdt, G., and Sasgen, I.: Global Glacier Mass Loss estimated from GRACE and GRACE-FO Satellite Observations (2002-2019), EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-16031,, 2020


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