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Geodesy and Glaciology

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History

Commission for Glaciology

The beginning of the Vernagtferner's series of measurements goes back to Sebastian Finsterwalder (1862–1951; academy member since 1903), an outstanding mathematician with a keen interest in geodetic measurement methods and the mapping of glaciers. The scientific observation of the Vernagtferner began with his first survey in 1889. Today, it covers more than 120 years and has been supervised comprehensively by the Academy since the Commission for Glaciology was founded in 1962. So far, 12 maps have been produced, the ice thickness has been determined as part of several campaigns and the ice movement documented over longer time periods. Since 1964, the annual and seasonal mass balances have also been determined. Even when it was founded, a complex relationship between climate development and glacier behaviour was evident. The task of the Commission for Glaciology was therefore to contribute to the study of glacier and climate changes. Since the beginning, the glacier mass balance has been determined using complementary methods. From 1974 onwards (as part of the Special Research Programme 81 of the DFG, 1974 - 1986), these surveys have been supplemented by recording the runoff from the glacier area. Since then, more and more accurate meteorological records have been added to the data set. Further glaciers in the Bavarian and Central Eastern Alps are regularly observed to enable regionalisation of general glacier changes. In the meantime, these continuous observations have been summarised in an easy-to understand way in the First Bavarian Glacier Report published by the Bavarian State Ministry of the Environment and Consumer Protection. In collaboration with international partners, the Commission is participating in selected glaciological projects worldwide. The knowledge and experience acquired in the Alps are used and disseminated as part of those projects.

Former Chairmen and/or Permanent Secretaries of the Commission

1962 - 1963Richard Finsterwalder
1963 - 1964Rudolf Geiger
1964 - 1983Julius Büdel
1983 - 2010Horst Hagedorn