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Calculating ice melt beneath a debris layer using meteorological data

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Generalized numerical models of sub-debris ice ablation are preferable to empirical approaches for predicting runoff and glacier response to climate change, as empirical methods are site-specific and strongly dependent upon the conditions prevailing during the measurement period. We present a modified surface energy-balance model to calculate melt beneath a surface debris layer from daily mean meteorological variables. Despite numerous simplifications, the model performs well and modelled melt rates give a good match to observed melt rates, suggesting that this model can produce reliable estimates of ablation rate beneath debris layers several decimetres thick. This is a useful improvement on previous models which are inappropriate for thick debris cover.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2006

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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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