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The residual method for determination of the turbulent exchange coefficient applied to automatic weather station data from Iceland, Switzerland and West Greenland

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The surface energy balance of glaciers is studied to determine their sensitivity to climate variations. It is known that the turbulent heat fluxes are sensitive to increases in temperature. Automatic weather station data from ablation regions are used to measure melt rates, radiative fluxes and the meteorological data required to determine turbulent heat fluxes using bulk formulas. The turbulent exchange coefficient must be determined for closure of the energy budget. The available methods are the eddy correlation method, the profile method and the residual method, which is applied and tested here. In the residual method the coefficient is determined by fitting a calculated melt curve to an observed melt curve. The coefficients are estimated for three sites: for Vatnajökull, Iceland, Ch = (1.3 ± 0.55) × 10−3 (1998) and Ch = (2.5 ± 1.1) × 10−3 (1999); for Morteratschgletscher, Switzerland, Ch = (2.1 ± 0.55) × 10−3 (1998); and for West Greenland, Ch = (2.0 ± 0.52) × 10−3 (1998–2000). It is found that the coefficient can be determined to within 26% uncertainty under the following conditions: all terms in the energy balance are measured, there is no differential melt on the glacier surface, the melt curves are fitted when the entire snow layer has melted, and the measurement period is several weeks.

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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