Training Course on Mass Balance Measurements and Analysis 2016

July 10-15, 2016

Instituto de Investigaciones Geológicas y del Medio Ambiente (IGEMA), Universidad Mayor de San Andrés (UMSA), La Paz – Bolivia

Zongo Glacier, Charquini Sur Glacier, Cordillera Real, Bolivia


Zongo Glacier, Cordillera Real, Bolivia. Photo by Maxime Litt, August 2009.


In 2016, the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) organized a training course on Mass Balance Measurements and Analysis. 18 participants from Latin America (Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina) who were involved in ongoing mass balance programmes in their region, were taking part. The participants were trained in both field and office work by an international team of experts in glacier monitoring and capacity building.

This training course was carried out within the framework of the project “Capacity Building and Twinning for Climate Observing Systems” (CATCOS) which is led by MeteoSwiss and supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The event was co-sponsored by the International Association of Cryospheric Sciences (IACS).


The training course was held from Sunday, July 10, to Friday, July 15, 2016 in La Paz, Bolivia. Theoretical training had taken place in the city of La Paz at the the IGEMA institute of the Universidad Mayor de San Andres (UMSA), while the training in field work and safety aspects was held on nearby glaciers Zongo and Charquini Sur (Cordillera Real).

Theoretical course contents were:

  • Internationally coordinated glacier monitoring and related strategies
  • Theoretical background of glacier mass balance measurements
  • From point measurements to glacier-wide mass balance
  • Uncertainties and reanalysing of glacier mass balance measurement series
  • The use of computer modelling for mass balance analysis
  • Exercises and discussion
  • Course evaluation and summary

The field work training consisted of:

  • Mountaineering equipment and safety training
  • Concept and construction of ablation stake network
  • Drilling of ablation stakes with Heucke Ice Drill and manual auger
  • Snow probing, digging and coring
  • Energy balance measurements

The course language was held both in English and Spanish.


01 – Introduction into WGMS and CATCOS
02 – GTN-G Monitoring Strategy
03 – IACS Support Letter
04 – Programa de Hielo y Nieve
05 – Glaciological mass balance
06 – Point to glacier-wide mass balance
07 – Geodetic mass balance
08 – Reanalysing mass balance series
09 – Mass balance reanalysis Conejeras Glacier Colombia
10 – Mass balance reanalysis – examples from Kyrgyzstan
11 – Mass balance glossary
12 – WGMS glacier app
13 – The retrat of glaciers in the world
14 – Glaciers and climate in the tropical Andes


Training course fees, accommodation, travel costs, lunch and field food were covered by the CATCOS project.

List of selected participants

Almost 50 valid applications were received by the end of the application period (06 March 2016). From these, a total of 18 training positions were offered to candidates from countries directly involved in the CATCOS project (EC, CO) and to other Latin American countries. During the selection process, priority was given to candidates involved with established mass balance programmes.

The following candidates were selected for participation in the WGMS Training Course 2016:

• AR: Gabriel Alberto Cabrera Gioia, IANIGLA/CONICET, Mendoza
• AR: Pierre Pitte, IANIGLA/CONICET, Mendoza
• AR: Sebastián Marinsek, IAA, Buenos Aires
• AR: Sergio José Camargo, Dirección General de Recursos Hídricos, Tierra del Fuego
• BO: Diego Mauricio Cusicanqui Villa Gómez, CLAS, Cochabamba
• BO: Edith Ramos, UMSA University, La Paz
• BO: Juan Pablo Fuchs Arce, UMSA University, La Paz
• CL: Carlos Mendoza, DGA, Santiago
• CL: Dennys Alexis Caro Paredes, University of Chile, Santiago
• CL: Álvaro González Reyes, University of Chile, Santiago
• CL: Pablo Francisco Zenteno Soto, Inmap, Santiago
• CO: Yina Paola Nocua Ruge, IDEAM, Bogotá
• CO: Victor Dario Silva Lopez, University of Santander, Bucaramanga
• EC: Luis Felipe Gualco Centeno, EPN, Quito
• MX: Guillermo Ontiveros González, UNAM, Ciduad de México
• PE: Luzmila Rosario Davila Roller, INAIGEM, Huaraz
• PE: Gilber Gonzales Lizarme, UGRH, Huaraz
• PE: Felipe Sikos Luza, University of Cusco, Cusco

Scientific Steering Committee and Teaching Team

The concept and programme of the Summer Schools has been developed by the Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) and will be implemented by the international Teaching Team (TT) consisting of the following members:
• Michael Zemp (SSC & TT), WGMS, Department of Geography, University of Zurich, CH
• Alvaro Soruco (SSC & TT), IGEMA, Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, BO
• Bernard Francou (SSC & TT), Institut de recherche pour le développement IRD, FR
• Antoine Rabatel (SSC), Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Géophysique de l’Environnement, FR
• Nico Mölg (SSC & TT), WGMS, Department of Geography, University of Zurich, CH
• Marlene Kronenberg (SSC & TT), Department of Geosciences, University of Fribourg, CH
• Romain Biron (TT), Institut de recherche pour le développement IRD, FR
• Camilo Muñoz Zapata (TT), Centro de Estudios Científicos (CECs), Valdivia, CL

trainingcourse 2017

Group photo. M. Zemp, July 15 2016.


last change 10/08/2016