Process-​based modelling of global glacier changes (PROGGRES)

The worldwide retreat of glaciers caused by ongoing climate change is source of an ever increasing number of concerns: Glacier wastage significantly affects sea-​level change, water availability in mountain regions, and glacier-​related hazards. Obtaining global-​scale information about glacier evolution is thus of utmost importance, and this is commonly done by combining remote-​sensing observations with model simulations. To date, however, models operating at the global scale are strongly simplified, and fail to account for some fundamental glaciological processes.

This project sets out to revise both the basis upon which global glacier changes estimates are computed, and the way these estimates can be interpreted. This will be done by harnessing recent advances in obtaining globally-​complete glaciological data, and by including some hitherto unaccounted processes into global glacier projections.

The initiative is designed along three work packages. The first is dedicated to model development, and will improve the way processes such as ice dynamics or glacier mass balance are included in global glacier models. The second package will quantify glacier changes in the recent past by developing and applying procedures extracting glacier-​related information from achieved satellite imagery. These data will be pivotal for both model calibration and validation. The third package will combine the above advances with the newest generation of climate projections to produce improved predictions of global glacier changes. The analysis of the results will focus on regional-​scale differences, and on scenarios that have both economic and policy relevance.

The project leverages recent advances in a number of scientific disciplines and bridges the gap between local-​ and global-​scale assessments that are necessary for the design of strategies for climate change mitigation and adaptation.