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Past and future mass balance of 'Ka Roimata o Hine Hukatere' Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand

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Despite their relatively small total ice volume, mid-latitude valley glaciers are expected to make a significant contribution to global sea-level rise over the next century due to the sensitivity of their mass-balance systems to small changes in climate. Here we use a degree-day model to reconstruct the past century of mass-balance variation at 'Ka Roimata o Hine Hukatere' Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand, and to predict how mass balance may change over the next century. Analysis of the relationship between temperature, precipitation and mass balance indicates that temperature is a stronger control than precipitation on the mass balance of Franz Josef Glacier. The glacier's mass balance, relative to its 1986 geometry, has decreased at a mean annual rate of 0.02 ma−1 w.e. between 1894 and 2005. We compare this reduction to observations of terminus advance and retreat, of which Franz Josef Glacier has the best record in the Southern Hemisphere. For the years 2000–05 the relative mass balance ranged from −0.75 to +1.50 ma−1 w.e., with 2000/01 the only year showing a negative mass balance. In a regionally downscaled Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change mean warming scenario, the annual relative mass balance will continue to decrease at 0.02 ma−1 w.e. through the next century.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2006-12-01

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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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