Alpine ice sheet


For nearly 300~years, montane people and early explorers of the European Alps have learned to understand that glaciers slowly flow downhill by gravity and thereby reshape the landscape they lie upon.

In fact, the European Alps are the cradle of pioneer glacial studies and one of the the regions where moraines, erratic boulders and other geological markers of glaciation are most abundant and well-studied. Nevertheless, most glacial features currently left on the foreland present a record of the last major glaciation of the Alps, dating from the Last Glacial Maximum, about 25 to 18 thousand years (ka) ago.


Using a computer model that contains knowledge on glacier physics based on modern observations of Greenland and Antarctica and laboratory experiments on ice, help from traces left by glaciers on the landscape, and one of the fastest computers in the world, this animation is an attempt to reconstruct of the evolution of Alpine Glaciers in time from 120000 years ago to today.

Modelled last glacial cycle ice dynamics in the Alps (also in de, fr, it, ja).

Interactive map

The simulation provides a detailed picture of glacier growth and decay, but the reality might have been very different. Thus, more geological data is needed to validate the accuracy of the results.

Zoom in and explore different ages. Best viewed fullscreen.