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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2020-87
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2020-87
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: data description paper 27 May 2020

Submitted as: data description paper | 27 May 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

Worldwide version-controlled database of glacier thickness observations

Ethan Welty1,2, Michael Zemp2, Francisco Navarro3, Matthias Huss4,5,6, Johannes J. Fürst7, Isabelle Gärtner-Roer2, Johannes Landmann2,4,5, Horst Machguth6,2, Kathrin Naegeli8,2, Liss M. Andreassen9, Daniel Farinotti4,5, Huilin Li10, and the GlaThiDa Contributors Ethan Welty et al.
  • 1Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR), University of Colorado Boulder, USA
  • 2World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS), University of Zürich, Switzerland
  • 3Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros de Telecomunicación, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain
  • 4Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology (VAW), ETH Zürich, Switzerland
  • 5Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), Switzerland
  • 6Department of Geosciences, University of Fribourg, Switzerland
  • 7Department of Geography, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU), Germany
  • 8Institute of Geography, University of Bern, Switzerland
  • 9Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE), Oslo, Norway
  • 10Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China
  • A full list of authors appears at the end of the paper.

Abstract. Although worldwide inventories of glacier area have been coordinated internationally for several decades, a similar effort for glacier ice thicknesses was only initiated in 2013. Here, we present the third version of the Glacier Thickness Database (GlaThiDa v3), which includes 3 854 279 thickness measurements distributed over more than 3000 glaciers worldwide. Overall, 14 % of global glacier area is now within 1 km of a thickness measurement – a significant improvement over GlaThiDa v2, which covered only 6 % of global glacier area, and only 1100 glaciers. In this paper, we summarize the sources and compilation of glacier thickness data and the spatial and temporal coverage of the resulting database. In addition, we detail our use of open-source metadata formats and software tools to describe the data, validate the data against this description, and track changes to the data following modern data management best-practices. Archived versions GlaThiDa are available from the World Glacier Monitoring Service (https://doi.org/10.5904/wgms-glathida-2019-03; GlaThiDa Consortium (2019)) and the development version (v3.1.0-rc1, from which this manuscript draft is generated) is available on GitLab (https://gitlab.com/wgms/glathida/-/tree/v3.1.0-rc1).

Ethan Welty et al.

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Ethan Welty et al.

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Short summary
Knowing the thickness of glacier ice is critical for predicting the rate of glacier loss and the myriad downstream impacts. To facilitate forecasts of future change, we have added millions of measurements to our worldwide database of glacier thickness: 14 % of global glacier area is now within 1 km of a thickness measurement (up from 6 %). To make it easier to update and monitor the quality of our database, we have used automated tools to check and track changes to the data over time.
Knowing the thickness of glacier ice is critical for predicting the rate of glacier loss and the...
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