In the Rofental (Ötztal Alps) a consortium of the three institutions, and open to research partners worldwide, concentrates on studying and monitoring cryospheric, atmospheric and hydrological processes and changes with particular attention to the complex topography and climate settings of the Alpine terrain. First documents from glaciers in the Rofental, Ötztal Alps, date back as far as 1601 and regular observations and systematic studies had begun more than 150 years ago.
As a consortium of four glaciers (Hintereis-, Kesselwand-, Vernagt- and Hochjochferner), the Rofen Valley yields important knowledge on regional glacier behaviour. The main goal, is the effective cooperation between the three institutions (Institute of Meteorology and Geophysics Innsbruck, Institute of Geography of the University of Innsbruck and the Bavarian Academy of Sciences) and research partners worldwide to better understand cryospheric, atmospheric and hydrological processes and changes with particular attention to the complex topography and climate settings of the Alpine terrain.
Methoden & Expertise zur Forschungsinfrastruktur
First geodetic maps where generated in the late 19th century, first rain gauges were mounted in 1929 and glacier mass balance time series of Hintereis-, Vernagt- and Kesselwandferner are among the longest uninterrupted world-wide, building a basis for regional hydrological studies, for glacier-climate and ice dynamic research, and for estimating the world wide glacier’s contribution to sea level rise. By 2014, networks of stakes and pits for mass balance monitoring are maintained at Hochjoch-, Hintereis-, Kesselwand- and Vernagtferner by the consortium members. Runoff gauges at Vernagtferner and in Vent (operated by the Hydrological Office of Tyrol) and a network of rain gauges in the Rofental basin are the basis for high mountain hydrological studies. A varying number of automatic weather stations on and in the surroundings of the glaciers are operated by the Rofental consortium. The glaciers in the Rofental are frequently used as a test site for process studies, model development and evaluations and for new remote sensing or ground based methods in glaciological research. A series of airborne LIDAR derived high resolution DTMs of Hintereisferner and its surroundings are available since 2001. They are subject of ongoing evaluations and method comparison studies as well as for monitoring and studying periglacial morphodynamics. The generated data are available from the consortium partners, glaciological key results are annually reported to the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS). A research station on Hintereisferner (with observer status in the Horizon 2020 INTERACT network) and one at Vernagtbach serve as logistic bases for fieldwork. In recent studies, socio-ecological research aspects – e.g. in relation with the use of water for energy production and tourism – comprise the natural scientific investigations.