Climate Data

Randolph Glacier Inventory data base of global glacier outlines

The Randolph Glacier Inventory (RGI) is a global data base of glacier outlines. It is intended for estimates of ice volume and glacier mass at regional and global scales. The data are organized into 19 large regions, with a shapefile provided for each region. The RGI is produced as part of the Global Land Ice Measurements from Space (GLIMS) initiative, a project to compile glacier information using remote sensing, primarily from optical instruments such as ASTER (Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and reflection Radiometer).

Key Strengths:

  • One of the most comprehensive and up-to-date inventories of world glaciers; contains approximately 682,605 km^2 of glacier area
  • The glacier outlines can be combined with DEMs to give areas, area distributions and area-elevation distributions

Key Limitations:

  • Lacks glacier IDs and other metadata found in other inventories
  • Glaciers on the periphery of Greenland and Antarctica are included but it is sometimes ambiguous whether they are part of the ice sheets
  • Scaling glacier observations to contributions to sea level requires accounting for unobserved glaciers, as well as empirical or modeled relationships between a glacier's area and its volume, mass or mass balance

Technical Notes

Version 1.0 was released in February, 2012. Version 2 was released in June, 2012.

From the GLIMS Website - excerpted June, 2012:

"The Randolph Glacier Inventory (RGI 2.0) is a global inventory of glacier outlines. It is supplemental to the Global Land Ice Measurements from Space initiative (GLIMS). Production of the RGI was motivated by the forthcoming Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR5) and is being released initially with little documentation in view of the IPCC's tight deadlines during 2012. Updates beyond the IPCC 2012 deadlines will take the form of additions to the GLIMS Glacier Database. As resources allow, all these data will be incorporated into the GLIMS Glacier Database."

A technical report, linked above, is available through the GLIMS website.

temporal metadataID:





Ocean or Land

Land Only

Vertical Levels

Input Data

ASTER imagery

Earth system components and main variables

Data Access: Please Cite data sources, following the data providers' instructions.

Usage Restrictions

Register with PIs on GLIMS website. No redistribution.

Cite this page

National Center for Atmospheric Research Staff (Eds). Last modified 20 Aug 2013. "The Climate Data Guide: Randolph Glacier Inventory data base of global glacier outlines." Retrieved from

Acknowledgement of any material taken from this page is appreciated. On behalf of experts who have contributed data, advice, and/or figures, please cite their work as well.