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Distributed mass-balance modelling on two neighbouring glaciers in Ortles-Cevedale, Italy, from 2004 to 2009

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A 6 year application of an enhanced temperature-index mass-balance model to Careser and La Mare glaciers, Eastern Italian Alps, is presented. The two glaciers exhibit very different characteristics, and a comprehensive dataset of distributed mass-balance measurements was used to test the model performance. The model was run using meteorological data acquired outside the glaciers. The work was focused on two main aspects: (1) the development of a morphological redistribution procedure for snow, and (2) the comparison of three different melt algorithms proposed in the literature. The results show that the simple method proposed for snow redistribution can greatly improve simulation of winter balance, and further improvements would be achievable by collecting data on inaccessible and high-altitude areas. All three melt formulations displayed a good skill level and very similar results in modelling the mass-balance distribution over glacier areas, with slightly better results from a multiplicative algorithm in capturing the vertical balance gradient. The simulation errors are related to aspect and elevation, and tend to be spatially aggregated. Some assumptions concerning the spatial and temporal distribution of air temperature and incoming solar radiation, although reasonable and widely used in the literature, may be responsible for this aggregation. Hence, there is a need to further investigate the processes that regulate the distribution of melt energy, and that appear to control the current deglaciation phase in this area.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2012

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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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