Glacier thickness and ice volume of the Northern Andes

Maximillian S Van Wyk De Vries, David Carchipulla-Morales, Andrew D. Wickert, Verónica G. Minaya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Tropical glacier melt provides valuable water to surrounding communities, but climate change is projected to cause the demise of many of these glaciers within the coming century. Understanding the future of tropical glaciers requires a detailed record of their thicknesses and volumes, which is currently lacking in the Northern Andes. We calculate present-day (2015–2021) ice-thicknesses for all glaciers in Colombia and Ecuador using six different methods, and combine these into multi-model ensemble mean ice thickness and volume maps. We compare our results against available field-based measurements, and show that current ice volumes in Ecuador and Colombia are 2.49 ± 0.25 km3 and 1.68 ± 0.24 km3 respectively. We detected no motion on any remaining ice in Venezuela. The overall ice volume in the region, 4.17 ± 0.35 km3, is half of the previous best estimate of 8.11 km3. These data can be used to better evaluate the status and distribution of water resources, as input for models of future glacier change, and to assess regional geohazards associated with ice-clad volcanoes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number342
JournalScientific Data
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Jeff La Frenierre and Amanda Hoffman for discussions related to this work, and Camilo Zapata and Daniel Andrade for sharing IPR results for data validation. We thank two anonymous reviewers for their comments. In particular, a reviewer recommendation to use multiple distinct methods for the calculation of ice thickness greatly improved this manuscript and associated dataset. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. EAR-1759071, coordinated by Lead PI G.-H. Crystal Ng. M.V. was funded by a University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering fellowship and a Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


Dive into the research topics of 'Glacier thickness and ice volume of the Northern Andes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this