The World’s Glaciers, Inventoried

In cooperation with the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS), NOAA@NSIDC has released an updated version of the World Glacier Inventory (WGI). The WGMS and the NOAA@NSIDC team jointly revised and updated the WGI based on additional sources from the literature. The database stores geographical coordinates of glacier label points and tabular information about glacier classification, area, length, orientation, and altitude range. To learn more and to access the WGI database, visit the WGI Web site.

The WGI was initiated during the International Hydrological Decade (IHD), 1965−74 and is mainly based on aerial photographs and maps of the second half of the 20th century. Since 1999, NOAA@NSIDC has worked with the WGMS to make its inventory available online. While the WGI cannot truly claim to have a complete list of the world’s glaciers, with this recent update, it now provides more than 130,000 entries.

The WGI is a reference data resource for the world’s glaciologists and one of NSIDC’s most popular data sets. NSIDC also holds the GLIMScollection of satellite image-derived glacier outlines stored with the full complement of WGI-defined glacier characteristics. Both GLIMS and the WGI are part of the Global Terrestrial Network for Glaciers (GTN-G). The GTN-G Data Overview Web page has a summary of how GLIMS, the WGI, and other data collections are related.

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