Thirty new 100-year records of glacier surface mass balance, accumulation and melt in the Swiss Alps are presented. The time series are based on a comprehensive set of field data and distributed modeling and provide insights into the glacier-climate linkage. Considerable mass loss over the 20th century is evident for all glaciers, but rates differ strongly. Glacier mass loss shows multidecadal variations and was particularly rapid in the 1940s and since the 1980s. Mass balance is significantly anticorrelated to the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) index assumed to be linked to thermohaline ocean circulation. We show that North Atlantic variability had a recognizable impact on glacier changes in the Swiss Alps for at least 250 years.