30 years of WGMS: achievements and future challenges

In 2016, the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) celebrated its 30 year existence.

In 1986, the two former ICSI (now IACS) services PSFG (Permanent Service on Fluctuations of Glaciers) and TTS/WGI (Temporal Technical Secretariat/World Glacier Inventory) were combined into the WGMS. The new service started to maintain and continue the worldwide collection of information on glacier distribution and changes – a task initiated in 1894 with the foundation of the International Glacier Commission at the 6th International Geological Congress in Zurich, Switzerland. In 1996, the WGMS moved from the ETH to the Department of Geography at the University of Zurich and has been funded by the Swiss GCOS Office at the Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss since 2010.

We celebrated this 30 Years Jubilee with a public symposium at the University of Zurich, a public one-day excursion to Rhone Gletscher and an invited dinner for founder members, current and former staff members, interns, and partner organisations of the WGMS. The half-day symposium illuminated WGMS achievements and future challenges from different views.
The event was sponsored by the Swiss GCOS Office at the Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss and by the Cryospheric Commission of the Swiss Academy of Science.

Public Symposium on August 31, 2016 (15-18)
WGMS achievements and future challenges


Welcome by…

15.00 – 15.15 WGMS Director (Michael Zemp)

15.15 – 15.20 GCOS International (Carolin Richter)

15.20 – 15.25 ESA (Mark Drinkwater)

15.25 – 15.30 GCOS CH (Fabio Fontana, Swiss GCOS Office, MeteoSwiss)


WGMS achievements and future challenges…

15.30 – 16.00 View from the immediate past director (Wilfried Haeberli, Z├╝rich, CH)

16.00 – 16.30 View from the IACS and the GTN-G advisory board (Liss M. Andreassen, NVE, Norway)

16.30 – 17.00 View from a data provider, data user and the national glacier monitoring service GLAMOS (Matthias Huss, VAW/Uni Fribourg, CH; National Correspondent)

17.00 – 17.30 View from a data provider (Mauri Pelto, Nichols College, USA; National Correspondent)

17.30 – 18.00 View from an artist (Irene Kopelman, Amsterdam, NL)


Participants of the Symposium on 31.08.2016 (photo by Horst Machguth)


Public Excursion to Rhone Gletscher on September 01, 2016

Zeichnung Ludwig Braun

Painting of the group at Rhone Glacier (by Ludwig Braun)


Crevasse rescue training for the WGMS staff at Sidelengletscher on September 02, 2016


Crevasse rescue training (photo by Michael Zemp)


last change 10/01/2019