Deep-sea cores and ice cores from the late Cenozoic show that the Earth's climate changes significantly. Glacier fluctuations are but one indication of this change. Glaciers are both an active component of the environmental system, regulating mountain streamflow, and a passive one, responding to climatic change. Thus, an understanding of the link between climate and glaciers is needed in order to assess the potential effect of glacier variations on the water resources of glacierized regions.
To define the basic data collection program needed to achieve this goal, the Workshop on Glacier Mass-Balance Standards was held November 28–29, 1990, in Seattle, Wash. Convened by the North American Committee on Climate and Glaciers, which was established in June 1990 at a meeting of the National Research Council of Canada's Subcommittee on Glaciers, the workshop was held to re-examine current glacier climate and hydrology programs in Canada and the United States.