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Observed surface snowmelt at high elevation in the Southern Alps of New Zealand

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Snowmelt is measured over a 34 day summer period at 2440 m a.s.l. on Tasman Glacier (>500 m above the equilibrium-line altitude) using a tipping-bucket lysimeter and an array of ten ablation stakes. A degree-day factor for snowmelt is calculated using a linear relationship between combined measured melt and the number of degree-days. The slope of the regression line for these data points provides an estimate of the degree-day factor for use in runoff models. Average snowmelt is 17.8 mm d−1, but varies between 0 and 78 mm d−1. Melt occurs in a series of distinct cyclical events or pulses, each of which lasts 5–8 days. These correspond to the eastward passage of anticyclones, then troughs over the Southern Alps. When all days with northwest airflow across the Southern Alps are excluded, the melt factor is 3.4 mm °C−1 d−1. Northwest days belong to a different population with a much higher average melt factor of 9.1 mm °C−1 d−1, but more measurements are required to better understand key processes.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2005

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  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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