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April 7, 2023

Rapid release of new glacier data contributes to global research.

The USGS, in collaboration with multiple universities, has been conducting field research on mountain glaciers for 60+ years. This research uses the mass balance measurements of the glaciers (whether the glacier is gaining more mass than it is losing or vice versa), which teach us how snow and ice in the mountains are linked to weather and climate. This science is important for understanding the global water cycle. Common field methodologies, investigation into physical processes, and long-term, consistently analyzed records are the hallmark of the Benchmark Glacier Project. 

The Benchmark Glacier Project is described on the USGS website, as well as in a recently released fact sheet and geonarrative. The website provides a narrative overview of the Project's science and links to related material. The data from the Project are collected every spring and fall for the Benchmark Glaciers, when snow is at its maximum (spring) and minimum (fall) in North America. The data are available to the public in several USGS Data Releases linked from the project website. The project team is continuing to collect, process, and publish new data. They add these data to existing data releases for timely access for partners and the public.  

Four of the monitored glaciers serve as 'reference' glaciers for the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS). The WGMS coordinates an international glacier monitoring network that provides data on glacier change. 

Benchmark Glacier Project Collaborators: 

  • USGS Alaska Science Center 

  • USGS Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center 

  • Carnegie Melon University 

  • Colorado State University 

  • University of Montana 

  • Boise State University 

  • University of Idaho 


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