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Analysis of meteorological data and the surface energy balance of McCall Glacier, Alaska, USA

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We report on analysis of meteorological data for the period 27 May–20 August 2004, from two automatic weather stations on McCall Glacier, Alaska, USA, aimed at studying the relationship between climate and ablation. One station is located on a mountain ridge and the other in the ablation area where we also analyzed the energy balance. The weather station on the glacier measured an average temperature of 5.3°C (at 2 m height above surface) and wind speed of 3.1 m s−1 (at 3 m height). A sonic height ranger and ablation stakes indicate a specific mass balance of −1.94 ± 0.09 m w.e between 15 June and 20 August. The specific mass balance calculated from the surface energy balance, −2.06 ± 0.18 m w.e., is in close correspondence to this. The latter is the sum of 0.12 m w.e. of snowfall, 0.003 m w.e. of deposition and −2.18 m w.e. of melt. Net radiation contributes 74% of the melt energy. Compared to ablation measurements in the early 1970s, summer ablation was large. This increase is explained by a combination of a relatively higher net radiation, a lower albedo and larger turbulent heat fluxes that led to more energy being available for melting. No single meteorological variable can be isolated as being the principal reason for the high ablation, however. The lower ice albedo (0.19) is possibly due to ash deposits from forest fires.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2005

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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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