Glacier wastage has been pervasive during the last century; small glaciers and those in marginal environments are disappearing, large mid-latitude glaciers are shrinking slightly, and arctic glaciers are warming. Net mass balances during the last 40 years are predominately negative and both winter and summer balances (accumulation and ablation) and mass turnover are increasing, especially after 1988. Two principal components of winter balance time-series explain about 50% of the variability in the data. Glacier winter balances in north and central Europe correlate with the Arctic Oscillation, and glaciers in western North America correlate with the Southern Oscillation and Northern Hemisphere air temperature. The degree of synchronization for distant glaciers relates to changes in time of atmospheric circulation patterns as well as differing dynamic responses.