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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 9, issue 2
The Cryosphere, 9, 525-540, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-9-525-2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
The Cryosphere, 9, 525-540, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-9-525-2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 17 Mar 2015

Research article | 17 Mar 2015

Surface elevation and mass changes of all Swiss glaciers 1980–2010

M. Fischer1, M. Huss1,2, and M. Hoelzle1 M. Fischer et al.
  • 1Department of Geosciences, University of Fribourg, 1700 Fribourg, Switzerland
  • 2Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology (VAW), ETH Zurich, 8093 Zurich, Switzerland

Abstract. Since the mid-1980s, glaciers in the European Alps have shown widespread and accelerating mass losses. This article presents glacier-specific changes in surface elevation, volume and mass balance for all glaciers in the Swiss Alps from 1980 to 2010. Together with glacier outlines from the 1973 inventory, the DHM25 Level 1 digital elevation models (DEMs) for which the source data over glacierized areas were acquired from 1961 to 1991 are compared to the swissALTI3D DEMs from 2008 to 2011 combined with the new Swiss Glacier Inventory SGI2010. Due to the significant differences in acquisition dates of the source data used, mass changes are temporally homogenized to directly compare individual glaciers or glacierized catchments. Along with an in-depth accuracy assessment, results are validated against volume changes from independent photogrammetrically derived DEMs of single glaciers. Observed volume changes are largest between 2700 and 2800 m a.s.l. and remarkable even above 3500 m a.s.l. The mean geodetic mass balance is −0.62 ± 0.07 m w.e. yr−1 for the entire Swiss Alps over the reference period 1980–2010. For the main hydrological catchments, it ranges from −0.52 to −1.07 m w.e. yr−1. The overall volume loss calculated from the DEM differencing is −22.51 ± 1.76 km3.

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