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

A new working group on the Randolph Glacier Inventory (RGI) and its role in future glacier monitoring

Fabien Maussion1, Regine Hock2, Frank Paul3, Philipp Rastner3, Bruce Raup4, and Michael Zemp5
Fabien Maussion et al.
  • 1Universität Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria (
  • 2University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, USA
  • 3University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 4National Snow and Ice Data Center, Boulder, USA
  • 5World Glacier Monitoring Service, Zurich, Switzerland

The Randolph Glacier Inventory (RGI) is a globally complete collection of digital glacier outlines, excluding the two polar ice sheets. It has become a pillar of glaciological research at global and regional scales, among others for estimates of recent and future glacier changes, glacier mass balance, and glacier contribution to sea-level rise. After its creation in 2012, the dataset’s further development has been coordinated by an IACS Working Group (WG) until 2019. This new WG (2020 - 2023) expands the scope of the previous one with new and updated objectives.

The latest RGI version (V6) was released in July 2017, and several new glacier outline datasets have been generated by the community since then. In the past, the RGI was updated by an ad-hoc manual process, which was effective but labor-intensive. One of the main objectives of the WG is to automate this process as much as possible by incorporating RGI generation tools into the Global Land Ice Measurements from Space (GLIMS) glacier database. Furthermore, the RGI (as of version 6) needs further improvements  to remain useful to the wider scientific community. Examples include data quality (wrong/outdated outlines, ice divides) but also the quality and availability of glacier attributes (hypsometry, glacier type, ...). Additionally, there is a demand for consistent historic glacier outlines (e.g. from the mid-1980s or earlier) to facilitate validation of glacier evolution models or transient mass balance calculations. With this WG, we strive to continuously improve and update the RGI, as well as to lay out a long-term plan for sustainable continuation of the RGI beyond the end of this WG.

In this presentation, we will discuss the current status and future of the RGI, and will engage with the community to encourage participation and feedback.

How to cite: Maussion, F., Hock, R., Paul, F., Rastner, P., Raup, B., and Zemp, M.: A new working group on the Randolph Glacier Inventory (RGI) and its role in future glacier monitoring, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-9888,, 2020


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