Cryosphere Data Release


Open access to high-elevation meteorological data and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) data from the Himalayas 

Meteorological data is scarce in high-elevation environments, and detailed imagery and repeat digital elevation models of debris-covered glaciers have not been made publically available until now. The Cryosphere Initiative at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) is thus pleased to announce the public release of hourly automatic weather station data and UAV data. These data were obtained through collaborations between the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (Government of Nepal), Kathmandu University, Utrecht University, and the Cryosphere Initiative at ICIMOD. These data are now hosted on ICIMOD’s regional database system (, and user registration is required for download. The release includes full metadata and the following files:

  • Hourly data from three automatic weather stations (Rikha Samba, Yala, and Kyanging) for the period between 2012 and 2014 

  1. Rikha Samba (5300 m):  
  2. Kyanging (3860 m):
  3. Yala Base Camp (5300 m): 
Sample air temperature data from three high-altitude automatic weather stations in Nepal. 

  • 1 m resolution orthomosaics and digital elevation models of the debris-covered Lirung glacier from May and October 2013 

  1. Data link: 
Sample 1 m UAV data at Lirung Glacier, October 2013. The left panel shows orthomosaic image, and the right panel shows elevation model with hillshade. 

Dr Joseph Shea, senior glacier hydrologist at ICIMOD, noted that “this data release is part of our ongoing commitment to open-data access in the region, which doesn’t have much in the way of high-elevation data.”  The data are primarily intended for students and researchers to conduct their own analyses.  

Research incorporating these datasets have been published in the following research papers: 

  • Immerzeel WW, Kraaijenbrink P, Shea JM, Shrestha AB, Pellicciotti F, Bierkens MFP, de Jong SM. High resolution monitoring of Himalayan glacier dynamics using unmanned airborne vehicles. Remote Sensing of Environment, 150: 93-103, doi:10.1016/j.rse.2014.04.025. 
  • Kraaijenbrink P, Meijer SW, Shea JM, Pellicciotti F, de Jong SM, Immerzeel WW. Seasonal surface velocities of a Himalayan glacier derived by automated correlation of unmanned aerial vehicle imagery. Annals of Glaciology, 57 (71), doi:10.3189/2016AoG71A072 
  • Shea JM, Wagnon P, Immerzeel WW, Biron R, Brun F, Pellicciotti F. A comparative study of high-elevation meteorological data in the Nepalese Himalaya. International Journal of Water Resources Development, 31 (2): 174-200, doi:10.1080/07900627.2015.1020417

These data were collected with financial support from the Norwegian government and the Department for International Development (UK). ICIMOD and its partners would also like to acknowledge Dr Rijan Kayastha, Kathmandu University, for providing logistical support; the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation; the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal; and the Nepal Army for providing the permits to conduct research in the selected sites. 

For more information, please contact: 

Dr Joseph Shea