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Glacier Mass Balance in Southern Norway Modelled by Circulation Indices and Spring-Summer Temperatures ad 1781–2000

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By stepwise regression analysis the accumulation, ablation, and equilibrium line altitude (ELA) were modelled by circulation indices and spring-summer temperature on six Norwegian glaciers (Ålfotbreen, Nigardsbreen, Rembesdalsskåka, Storbreen, Hellstugubreen and Gråsubreen). The circulation indices were derived from a gridded monthly mean sea level pressure (MSLP) data set, whereas temperature series were derived from instrumental and proxy data.

Analyses showed that accumulation on the western glaciers was strongly related to western airflow perpendicular to the main mountain range releasing precipitation on the glaciers. No other airflow variable significantly improved the regression. For the continental glaciers, circulating air in connection with low pressure systems was also found to be important. This may explain the lack of synchronicity in the glaciers' development in southern Norway during the Holocene. Accumulation was better modelled using the MSLP data set than by using the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index as predictor.

The decadal variations of accumulation, ablation, and ELA were analysed by a Gaussian low pass filter. The well-known abundant accumulation on Norwegian glaciers during the early 1990s turned out to be unprecedented during the entire series (since 1781), whereas the accumulation of the 1960s has not been lower since the early 19th century according to model results. Ablation increased significantly from the mid-19th century to the 1930s. The ablation maximum during the 1930s has not yet been exceeded. Also the 1930s show extremely high ELA values.

Keywords: Norway; atmospheric circulation index; glacier; stepwise regression analysis

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Norwegian Meteorological Institute, Oslo, Norway 2: The Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway

Publication date: 2005-10-01

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