Glacier Monitoring Program

There are about 160,000 glaciers in the world. Most of them have been around for hundreds of thousands of years but over the past few decades some have completely disappeared and most are losing ice at unprecedented rates. In some regions, glaciers act as naturally regulated water reservoirs that supply water for 2 billion humans. The loss or decline of glaciers in these regions will create severe hardships for these people.

Perhaps even more important, glaciers are the proverbial canary in the coal mine for world climate. They are extraordinarily sensitive to minute changes in precipitation and temperature, providing an accurate gauge of the rate of climate change and an indicator of how fast we need to respond and how drastic the measures we need to take.

The Glacier Monitoring Program ( was developed to monitor daily changes in the health of 200 glaciers around the world, providing a broad overview rather than the local or regional ‘spot checks’ on which other monitoring projects have focused. To date about 40 of the 200 glaciers, in thirteen different countries, are shown on the PTAAGMB site.

Leading the Industry

HyMet leads the industry with lowest forecast error % in 2010

In 2010, our proprietary StreamFlo models were over 50% more accurate than the NWS (National Weather Service). Precise knowledge of Columbia Basin hydrologic conditions, together with accurate runoff forecasts, provides the information needed to make informed decisions regarding these greatly variable hydroelectric, renewable energy supplies.

 Download 2010 Columbia Basin Forecast Report

2011 Forcasting Services

New - Seasonal runoff forecasts for the Columbia River at Grand Coulee Dam, The Dalles, Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River and Albeni Falls Dam on the Pend Oreille are available and will be sent on a weekly schedule beginning in December. HyMet forecasts have proven to be as accurate and more informative than alternative forecasting methods.

HyMet is also providing weekly forecasts of hydroelectric energy generation produced at the thirteen hydro projects operated by Federal Agencies in the Columbia Basin.

Precision Methodology

HyMet is a consulting firm working in water-related projects in the western United States and worldwide. HyMet's focus is on computer forecasting models for streamflow, snowmelt, runoff and glacier mass balance. Hydroelectric utilities, energy traders, and irrigation districts are the main users of the model's results.

HyMet's principal, Wendell Tangborn, has developed and refined a complex array of algorithms to forecast accumulation and snowmelt in remote, mountainous watersheds. The benefit of the computer-model approach to predicting runoff is that the input data are taken from readily available low-altitude observations of basic weather conditions, eliminating the need to measure snow accumulation directly.