Institute for Marine and Atmospheric research Utrecht
Ice & Climate; Automatic Weather Stations on Glaciers


The relation between meteorological quantities and the mass balance of a glacier surface is a critical element in modelling the reaction of a glaciers to climate change. To get a better hold on the processes that determine this interaction, the Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, Utrecht University (IMAU), has conducted a number of detailed meteorological field studies and deployed several automatic weather stations (AWS) on glaciers, ice caps and ice sheets. The IMAU started with field studies with a short term (10 days) experiment on the Hintereisferner in Austria in 1986. The first AWS measuring year round was placed on the Greenland ice margin east of Kangerlussuaq in 1994. Since 1994, IMAU has deployed several AWS in various projects, with different funding sources, on different glaciers around the world (Antarctica, Greenland, Alps, Norway, Iceland, Svalbard), and in different climate regimes. The stations are designed to work for long periods without being serviced and offer the opportunity to measure meteorological variables in remote areas and in harsh weather conditions. The main purpose of these stations is to study the mass balance and energy balance at these locations in view of global climate change, sea level rise and historic climate reconstructions.

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For more information, questions or comments please contact us using the email address below. Furthermore, please also inform us when using the information from this website in (peer reviewed) publications.

Institute for Marine and Atmospheric research Utrecht
Email: imau @

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We are very grateful to all people and institutes who help and helped maintaining our weather stations all over the world. Without their help, financial or practical, the AWS would not have worked as well as they have. Financial support was provided in several different projects and by several different organizations.

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Links and Activities

  • IMAU activities in the International Polar Year 2007-2009. Link
  • The Morteratschgletscher project - studying the microclimate of a valley glacier. Link
  • IASC Workshop on the use of automated measuring systems on glaciers , 23-26 March 2011, Pontresina, Switzerland. Link
  • Workshop on the use of Automatic Weather Stations on Glaciers, 28-31 March 2004, Pontresina, Switzerland. Link
  • Links to other (Antarctic) AWS data available online:
    • - SCAR Expert Group on Operational Meteorology in the Antarctic Link
    • - Reader (REference Antarctic Data for Environmental Research) data set Link
    • - Antarctic Meteorological Research Center Automatic Weather Station Project Link

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