Glacier Inventory of West Greenland


The inventory includes 5,297 glaciers from west Greenland between 59 to 71 degrees latitude N and 43 to 53 degrees longitude W. The glacier data basin division is based on a simplified version of the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) system. Data are based on 1:250000 maps, Landsat imagery, and aerial photos that were taken between 1948 and 1985.

NSIDC strongly encourages you to register as a user of this data product. As a registered user, you will be notified of updates and corrections. When registering, please include the title of this data set, Glacier Inventory of West Greenland.

Citing These Data

Weidick, A., C.E. Bøggild, and N.T. Knudsen. 1992. Glacier inventory of west Greenland. Boulder, CO: National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Table of Contents

1. Contacts
2. Detailed Data Description
3. Data Access
4. References
5. Document Information

1. Contacts


Anker Weidick, Carl Egede Bøggild, and Niels Tvis Knudsen
Geological Survey of Greenland
Oster Voldgade 10
Copenhagen K, Denmark

Technical Contact

NSIDC User Services
National Snow and Ice Data Center
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309-0449  USA
phone: +1 303.492.6199
fax: +1 303.492.2468
form: Contact NSIDC User Services

2. Detailed Data Description

Data Fields

Glacier Identification: The glacier code is based on the division of the Greenland coast into hydrological basins. The continent and administrative unit, typically included in WGMS data base entries, are omitted from all ID numbers as in all cases they are GL 2U (for the administrative unit of Greenland and the continent of North America).

Latitude and Longitude: The geographic coordinates of the glacier. The location is defined as a point situated on the central line of movement in the ablation area. For the sectors of outlets of the Greenland ice sheet the coordinate point is placed in the ablation zone close to the margin so that redefinition of the total sector area will not influence the coordinates given.

Orientation: The orientation of the ablation area in the down glacier direction.

Maximum glacier elevation: The highest elevation of the glacier in decameter above sea level (a.s.l.). Data are taken from topographic maps and should be considered as estimates. For outlets of the Greenland ice sheet the maximum elevation is omitted and 1800 decameters a.s.l. is assumed as an upper limit of the measured glacier area.

Minimum glacier elevation: The lowest elevation of the glacier in decameters above sea level. This field is left blank if the glacier terminus is unmeasured because the glacier terminates in the sea.

Surface area: The surface area of the glacier in square kilometers. Areas were measured using a high resolution digitizer. For outlet glaciers from the Greenland ice sheet, measured areas are for the marginal areas under 1800 meters a.s.l.

Morphology code: A series of six codes describing various morphology characteristics of the glacier. The codes are described in the following tables.

Digit 1 - Primary classification
      0 Uncertain or miscellaneous
      1 Continental ice sheet
      2 Ice-field
      3 Ice cap
      4 Unused
      5 Valley glacier
      6 Mountain glacier
      7 Glacier and snowfield
      8 Ice shelf
      9 Rock glacier

Digit 2 - Form
      0 Uncertain or miscellaneous
      1 Compound basins
      2 Compound basin
      3 Simple basin
      4 Cirque
      5 Niche
      6 Outlet
      7 Ice apron
      8 Group
      9 Remnant 

Digit 3 - Frontal characteristic 
      0 normal or miscellaneous 
      1 Piedmont
      2 Expanded foot
      3 Lobed
      4 Calving in sea; considerable calf ice
      5 Calving in sea ice; grounded
      6 Calving in lake
      7 Confluent

Digit 4 - Longitudinal profile
      0 Uncertain or miscellaneous
      1 Even, regular
      2 Hanging
      3 Cascading
      4 Ice-fall
      5 Interrupted

Digit 5 - Major source of nourishment 
      0 unknown 
      1 Snow and/or drift snow
      2 Avalanche ice and/or snow 
      3 Superimposed ice 

Digit 6 - Activity of tongue 
      0 uncertain 
      1 Marked retreat (> 1.5 km)
      2 Slight retreat (< 1.5 km)
      3 Stationary
      4 Slight advance
      5 Marked advance
      6 Possible surge
      7 Known surge
      8 Oscillating

Map: Reference to maps contained within the Atlas publication.

Sample Data

1AA01001,60.05N, 44.75W,NW, 99, 74,0000.01,740110,6000-02

1AA01001 - Glacier Identification number
60.05N - Latitude
44.75W - Longitude
NW - Orientation
99 - Maximum glacier elevation
74 - Minimum glacier elevation
00.01 - Surface area
740110 - Morphology code
6000-02 - Map reference


Please note: A user discovered errors in this data set. The tables below describes the errors, their corrections, and the source of the error. Possible error sources include the publication titled "Glacier Inventory and Atlas of West Greenland" (Weidick et al. 1992), and the original data file distributed by NSIDC, titled glaciers.dat. An updated data file titled glaciers_08302004.dat, which includes all corrections, is available by FTP as of 21 September 2004.

Table 1: Glacier orientation errors in data
Glacier Identification Number Glacier Orientation Corrected Glacier Orientation Source of Error
1GH03001 N NE glaciers.dat
1EA04011 MW NW Atlas*

* Glacier Inventory and Atlas of West Greenland

Table 2: Glacier elevation errors in data
Glacier Identification Number Maximum and Minimum Glacier Elevations Corrected Maximum and Minimum Glacier Elevations Source of Error
1AG10037 195, 200 195, 20 Atlas
1GH03001 E100, 95 100, 95 glaciers.dat
1HB15008 100, 700 100, 70 Atlas
1HD07012 11, 80 110, 80 Atlas
1HD09004 1000, 80 100, 80 Atlas
1HE01006 95, 700 95, 70 Atlas

Glacier Identification Number Maximum and Minimum Glacier Elevations Corrected Maximum and Minimum Glacier Elevations Source of Error
Table 3: Transposed maximum and minimum elevation errors in data
1AB05020 165, 180 180, 165 Atlas
1BK01003 160, 165 165, 160 Atlas
1CH38008 120, 165 165, 120 Atlas
1DG01005 110, 115 115, 110 Atlas

The following records in the Atlas publication appear to contain typographical errors in the latitude and/or the longitude. One user of this data set has suggested the following values as replacements. Please note that NSIDC did not change these values in the data file glaciers_08302004.dat.

Table 4: Potential errors in glacier latitude and longitude data
Glacier Identification Number Potential Erroneous Latitude or Longitude Suggested Value Source of Error
1AA03003 33.45°W 44.75°W Atlas
1AA27007 63.04°N 60.06°N Atlas
1AD02018 55.58°W 44.96°W Atlas
1CA03014 61.47°N 62.78°N Atlas
1CH41002 64.12°W 51.10°W Atlas
1DG29015 53.72°W 53.12°W Atlas
1HB10017 59.43°N 69.71°N Atlas

If you have any questions regarding the errors, please contact NSIDC User Services. We apologize for any inconvenience.

3. Data Access

Data are available via FTP.

Sharing your data with NSIDC

The International Council of Scientific Unions, in Resolution 8 of its 22nd General Assembly, recommended that "...all ICSU members support the fundamental principle of open exchange of data and information for scientific purposes." In the spirit of this resolution, NSIDC/WDC for Glaciology, Boulder encourages users of data distributed online and in other forms by NSIDC/WDC for Glaciology, Boulder to consider contributing their own published data to NSIDC/WDC for Glaciology, Boulder archive.

If you have published data that you wish to archive and make available to the scientific community, please contact NSIDC User Services to initiate a discussion of the content, form and size of the data set. A list of guidelines for submitting data in electronic form is available.

4. References

Weidick, A., C.E. Bøggild, and N.T. Knudsen. 1992. Glacier inventory and atlas of west Greenland. Rapp. Grønlands geol. undersog., 158.

5. Document Information

Document Revision Date

17 May 2005

Document URL