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Measurement and Estimative Models of Glacier Mass Balance in China

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Attributed to high altitude and inland location, the glaciers in China are characterized by very low temperature. The non-negligible contribution of up to 25% of superimposed ice to the net balance has been taken into account in the mass budget calculation. So too has the internal the accumulation in the infiltration zone of the accumulation area.

The prevailing monsoon climate delivers most of the annual precipitation over glaciated areas of China in the summer, making the major accumulation on those glaciers coincide with the ablation period. Therefore, the annual mass balance should be calculated neither by giving the place of annual accumulation to winter balance, nor annual ablation to summer balance. Rather, it is better done by net accumulation and net ablation during the year. In order to get the annual accumulation and the annual ablation on a glacier, the summer precipitation should be measured at the same time.

Frequent snowfall in the summer season results in intensive fluctuation of surface albedo. This means that, for lack of data on the extremes of ablation, reconstruction of mass balance is unsatisfactory when based on the relationships of accumulation and ablation to precipitation and temperature. The establishment of models, either on the relationship of multi-year mass balance to the equilibrium line and the mass balance gradient of a glacier in steady-state, or on the maximum entropy principle and the hydrometeorological data, helps to estimate the multi-year mass balance of the glacierized area in a mountain range or drainage basin.
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Keywords: estimative model; mass balance; measurement

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Territory and Environment Research, Hunan Normal University, Changsha, China, 2: Institute of Glaciology and Geocryology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, China

Publication date: 1999-12-01

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