Broadband radiation schemes (parameterizations) are commonly used tools in glacier mass-balance modelling, but their performance at high altitude in the tropics has not been evaluated in detail. Here we take advantage of a high-quality 2 year record of global radiation (G) and incoming longwave radiation (L↓) measured on Kersten Glacier, Kilimanjaro, East Africa, at 5873 m a.s.l., to optimize parameterizations of G and L↓. We show that the two radiation terms can be related by an effective cloud-cover fraction neff, so G or L↓ can be modelled based on neff derived from measured L↓ or G, respectively. At neff = 1, G is reduced to 35% of clear-sky G, and L↓ increases by 45–65% (depending on altitude) relative to clear-sky L↓. Validation for a 1 year dataset of G and L↓ obtained at 4850 m on Glaciar Artesonraju, Peruvian Andes, yields a satisfactory performance of the radiation scheme. Whether this performance is acceptable for mass-balance studies of tropical glaciers is explored by applying the data from Glaciar Artesonraju to a physically based mass-balance model, which requires, among others, G and L↓ as forcing variables. Uncertainties in modelled mass balance introduced by the radiation parameterizations do not exceed those that can be caused by errors in the radiation measurements. Hence, this paper provides a tool for inclusion in spatially distributed mass-balance modelling of tropical glaciers and/or extension of radiation data when only G or L↓ is measured.
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.