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Measurements and Models of the Mass Balance of Hintereisferner

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This paper summarizes the methods applied to determine the mass balance of Hintereisferner and several other glaciers in the Tyrolean Alps since 1952. On an annual basis the direct glaciological method was applied with fixed date measurements on 10–15 accumulation pits and 30–90 ablation stakes on 9 km2.

Indirect mass balance determination from equilibrium line altitude, accumulation area ratios or representative stakes, yield fair results and some exceptions could be related to anomalous meteorological conditions.

Monthly or more frequent stake readings supplied time series of ablation at various altitudes and slope aspects that served as basis for the calibration of energy and mass balance models. Of various models developed, two are presented in this paper. Both are based on degree days, one using daily values from a valley station to predict the mean annual balance of the entire glacier, while the other calculates day-to-day changes at 50-m grid points on the glacier.

The geodetic method has been applied for longer periods and yields results consistent with those of the glaciological method. The balance velocity calculated from recent ice thickness soundings and accumulation measurements is significantly less than observed velocity.

Keywords: glacier mass balance; low latitudes; methods

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Institut für Meteorologie und Geophysik, Universität Innsbruck, Austria, 2: Geographisches Institut, Universität Innsbruck, Austria

Publication date: December 1, 1999


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