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Multi-year water and surface energy budget of a high-latitude polythermal glacier: evidence for overwinter water storage in a dynamic subglacial reservoir

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This paper examines the water budget and surface energy balance of a Svalbard glacier (midre Lovénbreen) over a 6 year period (1997–2002). Fresh-water yields are found to lie between 1.1 and 1.5 m a−1 and reflect variable amounts of glacier ice ablation (0.27 ± 0.15 m a−1) and more consistent amounts of snowmelt and summer precipitation (0.40 ± 0.10 and 0.49 ± 0.12 m respectively). Between 24% and 36% of the annual runoff is thought to pass through a subglacial drainage system. Although the site is heavily influenced by stable maritime air masses during the summer, surface melting is achieved largely by net shortwave radiation fluxes (74–100% of ablation). Water budget analysis shows that the annual runoff yields may be strongly influenced by water storage within the glacial system. Storage can occur over the winter period and force the early development of the subglacial drainage system during the following summer. Thus annual water fluxes from this glacier cannot be estimated from glacial mass-balance data alone and there is a need to assess the implications of overwinter storage for our understanding of glacial dynamics, annual fluvial process rates and mixing processes in Svalbard's fjords.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2005-08-01

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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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