More than 70 years of glacier research in one room

· by Céline Walker · in History, Research

The library of the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) offers a rich collection of glaciology books and journals, including an almost complete Journal of Glaciology series dating back to 1947. Although 2023 was the last printed issue, we’ve now got 271 out of 276! We have also expanded our collection of the Annals of Glaciology to 66 issues. Visit us on Campus Irchel in room Y25-H-84 and immerse yourself in decades of glaciological research.

Although electronic versions may be more convenient these days, browsing through old printed magazines and books can reveal unexpectedly interesting articles. A small selection is presented here.

“The more we learn the more remains to be discovered”

This statement and the observation that glaciology “as a science is young, even though snow, ice and glaciers have been noticed for centuries, (…) but they have been remarkably late in becoming the subject of systematic investigation” were part of Hans Ahlmann’s foreword to the first issue in 1947, when the British Glaciological Society took up work again after World War II.

Foreword by H. Ahlmann in the first issue of the Journal of Glaciology in 1947.

The discussions at the General Assembly of the British Glaciological Society were published almost verbatim. Below is the one on extrusion flow in glaciers investigated on Claridenfirn in the first issue.

Discussion on extrusion flow in glaciers investigated on Claridenfirn.

The quasi-viscous behaviour of the Zmutt Glacier was already described in 1952 by Robert Haefeli. Finding this historical map of the surface of the Zmutt Glacier was particularly enlightening for me, as I am currently working on supraglacial morphological changes on the Zmutt Glacier.

The quasi-viscous behaviour of the Zmutt Glacier described in 1952.

Besides the Journal of Glaciology, you can find a wide variety of journals and books in the WGMS library in room Y25-H-84. And we also offer a candle raclette! See the top right of the picture below.

Some of these journals and books contain beautiful photographs of glaciers, which we otherwise see mostly as numbers. For example, Fabiano Ventura’s “Earth’s memory. I ghiacciai, testimoni della crisi climatica” showing the impressive ice loss of Aletsch Glacier between 1856 and 2021.

The Aletsch Glacier in 1856 and 2021.

The library is a collection of glaciers from around the world – and from different time periods. «Vanishing Ice. Stories of New Zealand’s Glaciers» by Lynley Hargreaves shows two women, Joanne Turnbull and Forrest Ross, in skirts and ropes in 1900 on the glacier named «Forrest Ross Glacier».

Joanne Turnbull and Forrest Ross in 1900 on the glacier named after one of the women.
Have a look at the books and journals available. And the collection will continue to grow!
Location: Campus Irchel, room Y25-H-84!

Céline Walker, World Glacier Monitoring Services

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