The equilibrium line of the Argentière glacier is highlighted in red on a Landsat-5 image captured on September 9th 1987. To help locate the snow line at the end of ablation season, representative of the equilibrium line, a combination of spectral bands – green, near infrared and medium infrared – has been used.

The Equilibrium-Line Altitude SEC bring together OSUG and IGE research teams in order to develop a product measuring the Annual Equilibrium-Line Altitude at the end of the ablation period by spatial optical remote sensing. The product is meant for all glaciers in French and European Alps, but also other mountain glaciers worldwide.

The targeted users are R&D (glaciological input data for the study of the climate/glacier relationship and for glacio-hydrological modelling), industry (hydropower producers) and local authorities, including national parks (monitoring glacier evolution).

The product uses data coming from Sentinel-2, Landsat-5/8, ASTER and Spot-6/7 and has a yearly update frequency. It has a 10m scale and covers the French Alps (4 tiles S2), the European Alps and mountain glaciers on a global scale.


  • 2018: completion of the automated data processing chain and validation of the “Annual Ice Equilibrium-Line Altitude” product for the French Alps glaciers, for the period 1984 to 2018.
  • 2019: validation of the product at the European Alps level for the period 1984 to 2019 and provision of the product at the European
  • Alps level via THEIA


Antoine Rabatel

Antoine Rabatel
Université Grenoble Alpes | IGE