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GCOS Land ECV - Glaciers

This ECV was termed “Glaciers and ice caps” in IP-10, but here the term “Glacier” is used more generally, to include ice caps. A glacier is defined as a perennial mass of ice, and possibly firn and snow, originating on the land surface from the recrystallization of snow or other forms of solid precipitation and showing evidence of past or present flow. There are several types of glaciers such as glacierets, mountain glaciers, valley glaciers and ice fields, as well as ice caps. Some glacier tongues reach into lakes or the sea, and can develop floating ice tongues or ice shelves. Glacier changes are recognized as independent and natural evidence of climate change, in which high confidence can be placed. Past, current and future glacier changes affect global sea level, the regional water cycle and local hazards.

Product Requirements:

  • Glacier Area:
    • Frequency:  Annual (at end of ablation season)
    • Resolution:  Horizontal 15-30 m; Vertical 1 m
    • Required Measurement uncertainty:  5 %
    • Standards/References:  IGOS (2009); Paul et al. (2009)
    • Entity (Satellite):  WGClimate
    • Entity (in situ):  GCW
  • Glacier Elevation Change:
    • Frequency:  Decadal
    • Resolution:  Horizontal 30 m-100 mx; Vertical 1 m
    • Required Measurement uncertainty:  2 m/decade
    • Stability (per decade unless otherwise specified): 1 m/decade
    • Standards/References:  Zemp et al. (2013)
    • Entity (Satellite):  WGClimate
    • Entity (in situ):  GCW
  • Glacier Mass Change:
    • Frequency:  Seasonal to annual (the latter at end of ablation period)
    • Resolution:  Vertical: 0.01 m or 10 kg/m2 (at point location)
    • Required Measurement uncertainty:  Better than  200 kg/m2/year  (glacier-wide)
    • Entity (Satellite):  WGClimate
    • Entity (in situ):  GCW


Data Sources: