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Global Alpine Glacier Trends, 1960s to 1980s

Fred B. Wood
Arctic and Alpine Research
Vol. 20, No. 4 (Nov., 1988), pp. 404-413
DOI: 10.2307/1551338
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1551338
Page Count: 10
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Global Alpine Glacier Trends, 1960s to 1980s
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Abstract

Analysis of data compiled by the Permanent Service on the Fluctuations of Glaciers (now known as the World Glacier Monitoring Service) suggests that the alpine glaciers of the world as a group shifted during the 1960 to 1980 period from a regime strongly dominated by shrinking and receding glaciers to a mixed regime. Between 1960 and 1980, on the basis of data for about 400 to 450 glaciers observed each year, advancing glaciers are shown to have increased from about 6% of observed glaciers to 55%. During the 1960 to 1980 period, on the basis of data for about 50 glaciers observed each year, annual mass balance is shown to be, on the average, positive for about 57% of observed glaciers in the European Alps and for 40% of observed glaciers in the other monitored areas of the world. Preliminary data for 1981 to 1985 suggest that the mixed glacial regime is continuing. However, regularly monitored glaciers account for only a small percentage (probably less than 1%) of the total number of glaciers worldwide. More extensive research and monitoring are necessary to determine the pervasiveness and permanence of this shift, and to assess its climatic implications.

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