WMO GCW home


  • Station or cluster: Contributing Station
  • WMO ID (if any):
  • Shape: polygon
  • Latitude, longitude: 45.8833, 6.9333
  • Altitude and/or range (m): 1600 -3600
  • Landscape: Coastal
  • Year established: 1978
  • Year-round? Yes
  • Operations contact: Delphine Six
  • Science contact: Christian Vincent
  • Data contact: Delphine Six
  • Click for website

Click here for Google Maps

Mer de Glace Glacier
Contributing Station Information

Mer de Glace Glacier is the longest glacier in The French Alps (12 km). This glacier is a temperate glacier located in the French Alps (Mont Blanc area). It covers an area of 28 km² and an altitude range from 1600 m to 3600 m mainly on a North aspect. Tributary glaciers oriented East and South are also measured in this catchment area. Roughly 40 sites, distributed both in ablation and accumulation area, are measured to determine mass balance. The surface is free debris cover except in the lower part (lower than 1900 m a.s.l).
Annual mass balances are continuously measured every year since 1978, winter and summer mass balances since 1994. Snout position is determined since 1866 but data are fragmented between 1866 and 1970. Thickness variation are continuously determined since 1969 along 5 transverse profiles. Ice velocities are also determined along these profiles since 1969.

Other Networks to Which This Contributing Station Belongs

Measurement Methods Used

Data Information


Six, D., Vincent C.2014. Sensitivity of mass balance and equilibrium-line altitude to climate change in the French Alps, Journal of Glaciology, 60(223)

Hingray, B., Dedieu, J.P., Lebel, T., Obled, C., Sicart, J.E., Six, D., et al. (2012). Glaciological and hydrometeorological observations in mountainous areas: Some current issues and perspectives. Houille Blanche-Revue Internationale de l’Eau, (2), 5–11.

Vincent C. M. Harter, A. Gilbert, E. Berthier, & D. Six. (2014). Future fluctuations of Mer de Glace, French Alps, assessed using a parameterized model calibrated with past thickness changes. Annals of Glaciology, 55,(66), doi:10.3189/2014AoG66A050


The measurements made at Mer de Glace Glacier are listed in the following tables. (Note: If End Year is blank, measurements are ongoing.)

Cryosphere Measurements

Element Variable Start Year End Year Frequency
GlacierAnnual mass balance1978Continuous
GlacierWinter mass balance1994Continuous
GlacierSurface topography1905Sporadic

Measurement Notes and Other Measurements

Category Description or List
GlacierSnout position is determined since 1866 (fragmented data between 1966 and 1970, continous after this year).

Last updated: 31 May 2017