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Estimating response times of Vadret da Morteratsch, Vadret da Palü, Briksdalsbreen and Nigardsbreen from their length records

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Length records of two pairs of glaciers are used to reconstruct the equilibrium-line altitude (ELA) and to estimate glacier response times. The method is based on the assumption that neighbouring glaciers should be subject to the same climatic forcing, and that differences in the length records are thus caused by differences in response times and climate sensitivities. By means of a control method, in which the difference between the reconstructed histories of the ELA is minimized, realistic response times are found. The pairs of glaciers studied are: (i) Vadret da Morteratsch and Vadret da Palü in the Swiss Alps and (ii) Briksdalsbreen and Nigardsbreen in southern Norway. In both cases the reconstructed ELA histories of the individual glaciers are very similar, in spite of the large differences in the length records. Short e-folding response times are found for the steep glaciers: 4.4 years for Vadret da Palii, 5.0 years for Briksdalsbreen. For the larger glaciers with a more gentle slope the response times are substantially larger: 33.0 years for Vadret da Morteratsch, 34.8 years for Nigardsbreen.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2007

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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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