Image 01 Image 02

Rofental (Regular)

Operator: (1) Institute of Meteorology and Geophysics, University of Innsbruck, Innrain 52, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria in coopeation with (2) Institute of Geography, University of Innsbruck, Innrain 52, 5020 Innsbruck and (3) Commission for Glaciology of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences, 80539 Munich, Germany
DEIMS Database: Rofental
Contact: (1) Georg Kaser,, (2) Ulrich Strasser, (3) Ludwig Braun

Site description

In the Rofental (Ötztal Alps) a consortium of the three institutions, open to research partners worldwide, concentrates on studying and monitoring cryospheric, atmospheric and hydrological processes and changes with particular attention to the comoplex topography and climate settings of the Alpine terrain. First documents from glaciers in the Rofental date back as far as 1601 and regular observations and systematic studies had begun more than 150 years ago. First geodetic maps where generated in the late 19th century, first rain gauges were mounted in 1929 and glacier mass balance time series of Hintereis-, Vernagt- and Kesselwandferner are among the longest uninterrupted world-wide, building a basis for regional hydrological studies, for glacier-climate and ice dynamic research, and for estimating the world wide glacier’s contribution to sea level rise. By 2014, networks of stakes and pits for mass balance monitoring are maintained at Hochjoch-, Hintereis-, Kesselwand- and Vernagtferner by the consortium members. Runoff gauges at Vernagtferner and in Vent (operated by the Hydrological Office of Tirol) and a network of rain gauges in the Rofental basin are the basis for high mountain hydrological studies.

A varying number of automatic weather stations on and in the surroundings of the glaciers are operated by the Rofental consortium. The glaciers in the Rofental are frequently used as a test site for process studies, model development and evaluations and for new remote sensing or ground based methods in glaciological research. A series of airborne LIDAR derived high resolution DTMs of Hintereisferner and its surroundings are available since 2001. They are subject of ongoing evaluations and method comparison studies as well as for monitoring and studying periglacial morphodynamics. The generated data are available from the consortium partners, glaciological key results are annually reported to the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS). A research station on Hinterseisferner (with observer status in the Horizon 2020 INTERACT network) and one at Vernagtbach serve as logistic bases for fieldwork. In recent studies, socio-ecological research aspects – e.g. in relation with the use of water for energy production and tourism – comprise the natural scientific investigations.


  • Strasser, U., Marke, T., Kaser, G., Maussion, F. Stötter, J., Sailer, R. and Mayer, Ch. (2017): Rofental: a high alpine research catchment in Austria (Ötztal Alps, 1890 m – 3770 m a.s.l.) with over 150 yr long hydrometeorological and glaciological data records, in preparation for Earth System Science Data.

  • Schmieder, J., Hanzer, F., Marke, T., Garvelmann, J., Warscher, M., Kunstmann, H. and Strasser, U. (2016): Assessment of the impact of snowmelt variability and its isotopic content on melt event-based isotopic hydrograph separation in a high-elevation catchment, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 20, 5015-5033, doi:10.5194/hess-20-5015-2016.

  • Förster, K., Oesterle, F., Hanzer, F., Schöber, J., Huttenlau, M. and Strasser, U. (2016): A snow and ice melt seasonal prediction modelling system for Alpine reservoirs, Proc. IAHS, 374, 143–150,

  • Förster, K., Hanzer, F., Winter, B., Marke, T. and Strasser, U. (2016): MELODIST – An open-source MEteoroLOgical observation time series DISaggregation Tool, Geosci. Model Dev., 9, 2315-2333,

  • Hanzer, F., Helfricht, K., Marke, T. and Strasser, U. (2016): Multi-level spatiotemporal validation of snow/ice mass balance and runoff modeling in glacierized catchments, The Cryosphere, 10, 1859–1881,

  • Helfricht, K., Hanzer, F., Strasser, U. and Kuhn, M. (2015): Airborne laser scanning: a basis for hydrological studies in partly glacierized catchments, Zeitschrift für Gletscherkunde und Glazialgeologie 47/48, 121-134.

  • Förster, K., Oesterle, F., Hanzer, F., Huttenlau, M. and Strasser, U. (2015): Bestimmung der Auswirkungen des Klimawandels auf die Gletscherdynamik und das Abflussregime im Rofental unter Verwendung eines gekoppelten glazio-hydrologischen Modells. Ergebnisse aus dem Forschungsprojekt MUSICALS, Innsbrucker Geographische Gesellschaft, Innsbrucker Jahresbericht 2014-2015, ISBN 978-3-901182-77-8, S. 23 - 40.

  • Strasser, U., Vilsmaier, U., Prettenthaler, F., Marke, T., Steiger, R., Damm, A., Hanzer, F., Wilcke, R. and Stötter, J. (2014): Coupled component modelling for inter- and transdisciplinary climate change impact research: Dimensions of integration and examples of interface design, Env. Mod. Soft. 60, 180-187,

  • Marzeion, B., Cogley, J.G., Richter, K. & Parkes, D. (2014): Attribution of global glacier mass loss to anthropogenic and natural causes. Science (345): 919 – 921.

  • Marzeion, B., Jarosch, A.H., Gregory, J.M. (2014): Feedbacks and mechanisms affecting the global sensitivity of glaciers to climate change, The Cryosphere 8, 59-71, DOI: 10.5194/tc-8-59-2014.

  • Painter, T. H., M. G. Flanner, G. Kaser, B. Marzeion, R. A. VanCuren & W. Abdalati (2013): End of the Little Ice Age in the Alps forced by industrial black carbon. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110, 15216-15221.

  • Marke, T., Mauser, W., Pfeiffer, A., Zängl, G., Jacob, D. and Strasser, U. (2013): Application of a hydrometeorological model chain to investigate the effect of global boundaries and downscaling on simulated river discharge, Env. Earth Sci.,

  • Braun, L. und Escher-Vetter, H. (2013) (Hrsg.): Gletscherforschung am Vernagtferner. Themenband zum 50ig jährigen Gründungsjubiläum der Kommission für Glaziologie der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, München. Zeitschrift für Gletscherkunde und Glazialgeologie, Band 45/46.

  • Sailer R., Bollmann E., Hoinkes S., Rieg L., Sproß M., Stötter J. (2012): Quantification of Geomorphodynamics in glaciated and recently deglaciated terrain based on airborne laser scanning data. Geografiska Annaler Series A-Physical Geography 94/1, S. 17 - 32.

  • Marzeion, B., Hofer, M., Jarosch, A. H., Kaser, G., & Mölg, T. (2012): A minimal model for reconstructing interannual mass balance variability of glaciers in the European Alps. The Cryosphere, 6(1), 71–84. doi:10.5194/tc-6-71-2012

  • Prasch, M., Marke, T., Strasser, U. and Mauser, W. (2011): Large scale integrated hydrological modelling of the impact of climate change on the water balance with DANUBIA. Adv. Sci. Res., 7, 61-70.

  • Sailer, R.; Stötter, J.; Bollmann, E.; Fritzmann, P.; Georges, Ch.; Geist, Th. (2011): ALS-X - Kombination und Bewertung von flugzeuggestützten Laserscannerdaten und TerraSAR-X Daten für glaziologische und schneehydrologische Fragestellungen. Innsbrucker Geographische Gesellschaft: Innsbrucker Jahresbericht 2008-2010. Innsbruck: Innsbrucker Geographische Gesellschaft, ISBN 978-3-901182-83-9, S. 174 - 187.

  • Marke, T., Mauser, W., Pfeiffer, A. and Zängl, G. (2011): A pragmatic approach for the downscaling and bias correction of regional climate simulations: evaluation in hydrological modeling. Geosci. Model Dev., 4, 759–770.

  • Fischer A. (2010): Glaciers and climate change: Interpretation of 50 years of direct mass balance of Hintereisferner, Global and Planetary Change, Volume 71, Issues 1­2, Pages 13­26, ISSN 0921­8181, DOI: 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2009.11.014.

  • Abermann, J., Lambrecht, A., Fischer, A. & Kuhn, M. (2009): Quantifying changes and trends in glacier area and volume in the Austrian Ötztal Alps (1969-1997-2006). TC, 3(2): 205-215.

  • Fischer A. and Markl G., (2009): Mass balance measurements on Hintereisferner, Kesselwandferner and Jamtalferner 2003 to 2006: database and results. Zeitschrift für Gletscherkunde und Glazialgeologie, 42/1, 47­83.

  • Hendriks, J. & Pellikka, P. (2007): Semi­automatic glacier delineation from Landsat imagery over Hintereisferner in the Austrian Alps, Zeit­schrift für Gletscherkunde und Glazialgeologie, Band 41, Seite 55­75.

  • Kuhn M., Dreiseitl E., Hofinger S., Kaser G., Markl G. & Span N. (1999): Measurements and Models of the Mass Balance of Hintereisferner. Geografiska Annaler, 81A, 659 - 670.