EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

An annual mass balance estimate for each of the world’s glaciers based on observations

Ines Dussaillant1, Romain Hugonnet2,3, Matthias Huss2, Etienne Berthier3, Frank Paul1, and Michael Zemp1
Ines Dussaillant et al.
  • 1WGMS, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland (
  • 2VAW, ETH, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 3LEGOS, Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France

The geodetic method has become a popular tool to measure glacier elevation changes over large glacierized regions with high accuracy for multi-annual to decadal time periods. In contrast, the glaciological method provides annually to seasonally resolved information on glacier evolution, but only for a small sample of the world’s glaciers (less than 1%). Various methods have been proposed to bridge the gap on spatio-temporal coverage of glacier change observations and to provide annually-resolved glacier mass balances using the geodetic sample as calibration. Thanks to a new global and near-complete (96% of the world glaciers) dataset of geodetic mass balance observations, this goal has become feasible at the global scale. Inspired by previous methodological frameworks, we developed a new approach to combine the glacier distribution from the globally-complete Randolph Glacier Inventory with the mass balance and elevation change observations from the Fluctuation of Glaciers database of the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS). Our results provide a global assessment of annual glacier mass changes and related uncertainties for every individual glacier during the 2000–2020 period. The glacier-specific time series can then be integrated into an annually-resolved global gridded glacier change product at any user-requested spatial resolution, useful for comparison with gravity-based products, calibration or validation of glacier mass balance models operating at a global scale and to improve calculations of the glacier contribution to regional hydrology and global sea-level rise.

How to cite: Dussaillant, I., Hugonnet, R., Huss, M., Berthier, E., Paul, F., and Zemp, M.: An annual mass balance estimate for each of the world’s glaciers based on observations, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-6338,, 2022.