Index dataset: Glacier Regions

Digital object identifier and related metadata of the current database version

Scientific data identifier for version 2023: 10.5904/gtng-glacreg-2023-07

Creator: Global Terrestrial Network for Glaciers (GTN-G)

Title: GTN-G Glacier Regions (GlacReg)

Publisher: Global Terrestrial Network for Glaciers (GTN-G)

Publication year: 2023

Release date: 2023-07-07

Citation: GTN-G (2023): GTN-G Glacier Regions. Global Terrestrial Network for Glaciers. DOI: 10.5904/gtng-glacreg-2023-07. Online access:


Standardized glacier regions are useful for regional assessments of glacier change and other variables as well for regional aggregation of glacier data, such as from the Glacier Thickness Database (GlaThiDa; GlaThiDa Consortium 2020) and from the WGMS Fluctuations of Glaciers database (FoG; e.g., WGMS 2021, 2022).

This dataset defines 20 first-order glacier regions and more than 90 second-order regions encompassing all of Earth’s glaciers outside the ice sheets. Since 2017 the GTN-G Glacier Regions dataset (GlacReg) is a joint set of regions recommended by the Global Terrestrial Network for Glaciers (GTN-G) Advisory Board, the Global Land Ice Measurements from Space initiative (GLIMS), the Randolph Glacier Inventory (RGI) Working Group of the International Association of Cryospheric Sciences (IACS), and the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS). These glacier regions are implemented in the Randolph Glacier Inventory (RGI Consortium 2023).

Language: English

Data format: shapefile, zipped

Data size: 2 MB

Rights: Open access for scientific and educational purposes under requirement of correct citation (see above)

Spatial coverage: global

Temporal coverage: modern era (since the last ice age)

Summary of changes between versions
Changes in version of 2023 as compared to version of 2017
The region boundaries and names were slightly modified to accommodate changes adopted in RGI 7.0 (RGI Consortium, 2023, Maussion et al., 2023):
– The region boxes for region 01 (Alaska) used to encompass some islands in the Bering Sea East of Kamchatka. One of the two boxes, part of subregion 01-03 Alaska Peninsula (Aleutians), contains no glaciers (and probably hasn’t for a long time) and is now removed.
– Subregion 05-11 (Greenland Ice Sheet) was removed since it was coarsely defined and the RGI does not include the ice sheet proper.
– The southern boundary of region 12 (Caucasus and Middle East) was shifted south by 2° (from 32°N to 30°N) to encompass a cluster of glaciers which were previously not included.
– Region 19 (“Antarctic and Subantarctic”) was split into two first-order regions. Region 19 now solely includes the islands in the periphery of Antarctica, and was renamed to “Subantarctic and Antarctic Islands”. A new region 20, (“Antarctic Mainland”) was added to encompass the remaining subregion (“Antarctic Ice Sheet”, previously 19-31 and now 20-01), but it presently contains no glaciers in the RGI (nor has the corresponding former subregion 19-31 in all previous RGI versions).
– Region names in the region shapefiles (and therefore of the associated RGI product files) were harmonized to reflect the most commonly used version in various documents and publications of the RGI. “Arctic Canada, North” and “Arctic Canada, South” have been renamed “Arctic Canada North” and “Arctic Canada South” (comma removed), respectively. The four regions in Asia (“North”, “Central”, “South West” and “South East”) were renamed to “North Asia”, “Central Asia”, “South Asia West” and “South Asia East”, respectively. With this change, none of the regions and subregions in RGI 7.0 have a comma in their name.
– The data type of the rgi_code attribute in the first-order region file is now str (instead of int). The rgi_code now has a leading zero, for example 02 instead of 2.
– All abbreviations in the second-order regions file have been replaced by their full name (e.g. “East Central” instead of “EC”)
– The first-order and second-order region files now have a field called long_code which contains a string representing the full region name, using the lowercase with underscores format (e.g. 02_western_canada_usa). This field is used to name the corresponding RGI shapefiles.
– The WGMS_CODE column was deleted from all files.
– The RGI_CODE column is now called o1region (first-order files) and o2region (second-order files).
Version history prior to 2017
Region boundaries in the GTN-G dataset released in 2015 were adopted from the regions used in RGI version 5.0 (Arendt et al., 2015). RGI regions varied slightly between RGI versions and were initially derived, with some minor modifications (RGI Consortium 2017), mostly from Radić and Hock (2010), who were aggregating and upscaling results from the World Glacier Inventory (WGI 1989, Colgey 2009). The GTN-G region released in 2016 slightly updated the region boundaries in the dataset released in 2015. For example, region 02-01 (Melville Island) was transferred to first-order region 03 (Arctic Canada North) as region 03-07, and the other second-order regions of region 02 (Western Canada and US) were renumbered as 02-01 to 02-05. Also, region 19-31 was renamed (from Antarctic Ice Sheet) to “Antarctic Mainland” in order to cover glaciers such as on the Antarctic Peninsula or in the Dry Valleys.

To avoid disparities between glaciers regions used in the RGI and for other purposes within GTN-G, an updated common GTN-G dataset was developed and released in 2017 which slightly differs from both the GTN-G dataset from 2016 and the region dataset used in RGI 5.0. Since the release of RGI version 6.0, glacier regions in the RGI are fully compatible with the GTN-G regions.

Related publications:
Arendt et al. (2015): Randolph Glacier Inventory – A Dataset of Global Glacier Outlines: Version 5.0. Global Land Ice Measurements from Space, Boulder Colorado, USA. Digital Media.
Cogley, G. (2009),
A more complete version of the World Glacier Inventory, Ann. Glaciol., 50, 32–38.
Dyurgerov, M. B. (2002):
Glacier mass balance and regime: data of measurements and analysis. (INSTAAR Occasional Paper No. 55). Boulder CO, USA.
GlaThiDa Consortium (2020):
Glacier Thickness Database 3.1.0. World Glacier Monitoring Service, Zurich, Switzerland. DOI: 10.5904/wgms-glathida-2020-10.
Maussion et al. (2023):
The Randolph Glacier Inventory version 7.0 User Guide. DOI:Zenodo.
Pfeffer et al. (2014):
The Randolph Glacier Inventory – A Globally Complete Inventory of Glaciers. Journal of Glaciology 60, 221: 537-551.
Radić and Hock (2010):
Regional and global volumes of glaciers derived from statistical upscaling of glacier inventory data. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface 115.F1.
RGI 6.0 Consortium (2017):
Randolph Glacier Inventory – A Dataset of Global Glacier Outlines, Version 6.0. Boulder, Colorado USA. NSIDC: National Snow and Ice Data Center.
RGI 7.0 Consortium (2023):
Randolph Glacier Inventory – A Dataset of Global Glacier Outlines, Version 7.0. Boulder, Colorado USA. NSIDC: National Snow and Ice Data Center.
WGMS (1989):
World glacier inventory – Status 1988. Haeberli, W., Bösch, H., Scherler, K., Østrem, G. and Wallén, C. C. (eds.), IAHS (ICSI) / UNEP / UNESCO, World Glacier Monitoring Service, Zurich, Switzerland: 458 pp.
WGMS (2021):
Global Glacier Change Bulletin No. 4 (2018-2019). Zemp, M., Nussbaumer, S. U., Gärtner-Roer, I., Bannwart, J., Paul, F., and Hoelzle, M. (eds.), ISC(WDS)/IUGG(IACS)/UNEP/UNESCO/WMO, World Glacier Monitoring Service, Zurich, Switzerland, 278 pp., publication based on database version: doi:10.5904/wgms-fog-2021-05.
WGMS (2022):
Fluctuations of Glaciers Database. World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS), Zurich, Switzerland.

The data might be subject to errors and inaccuracies. Hence, we strongly suggest to perform data quality checks and, in case of ambiguities, to contact us

release datedoimetadatadata downloadonline access
2023 (current)10.5904/gtng-glacreg-2023-07websitezip file
201710.5904/gtng-glacreg-2017-07websitezip file
201610.5904/wgms-glacreg-2016-10websitezip file
2015websitezip file
last change 14/08/2023