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Relating glacier mass balance to meteorological data by using a seasonal sensitivity characteristic

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We propose to quantify the climate sensitivity of the mean specific balance B of a glacier by a seasonal sensitivity characteristic (SSC). The SSC gives the dependence of B on monthly anomalies in temperature and precipitation. It is calculated from a mass-balance model. We show and discuss examples for Franz-Josef Glacier (New Zealand), Nigardsbreen (Norway), Hintereisferner (Austria), Peyto Glacier (Canadian Rockies), Abramov Glacier (Kirghizstan) andWhite Glacier (Canadian Arctic). With regard to the climate sensitivity of B, SSCs clearly show that summer temperature is the most important factor for glaciers in a dry climate. For glaciers in a wetter climate, spring and fall temperatures also make a significant contribution to the overall sensitivity. The SSC is a 2 × 12 matrix. Multiplying it with monthly perturbations of temperature and precipitation for a particular year yields an estimate of the balance for that year. We show that, with this technique, mass-balance series can be (re)constructed from long meteorological records or from output of atmospheric models.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2000-01-01

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  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.

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