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Global Application of a Surface Mass Balance Model Using Gridded Climate Data : Volume 6, Issue 2 (16/04/2012)

By Giesen, R. H.

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Book Id: WPLBN0004022660
Format Type: PDF Article :
File Size: Pages 46
Reproduction Date: 2015

Title: Global Application of a Surface Mass Balance Model Using Gridded Climate Data : Volume 6, Issue 2 (16/04/2012)  
Author: Giesen, R. H.
Volume: Vol. 6, Issue 2
Language: English
Subject: Science, Cryosphere, Discussions
Collections: Periodicals: Journal and Magazine Collection, Copernicus GmbH
Publication Date:
Publisher: Copernicus Gmbh, Göttingen, Germany
Member Page: Copernicus Publications


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Oerlemans, J., & Giesen, R. H. (2012). Global Application of a Surface Mass Balance Model Using Gridded Climate Data : Volume 6, Issue 2 (16/04/2012). Retrieved from

Description: Institute for Marine and Atmospheric research Utrecht, Utrecht University, The Netherlands. Global applications of surface mass balance models have large uncertainties, as a result of poor climate input data and limited availability of mass balance measurements. This study addresses several possible consequences of these limitations for the modelled mass balance. This is done by applying a simple surface mass balance model that only requires air temperature and precipitation as input data, to glaciers in different regions. In contrast to other models used in global applications, this model separately calculates the contributions of net solar radiation and the temperature-dependent fluxes to the energy balance. We derive a relation for these temperature-dependent fluxes using automatic weather station (AWS) measurements from glaciers in different climates. With local, hourly input data, the model is well able to simulate the observed seasonal variations in the surface energy and mass balance at the AWS sites. Replacing the hourly local data by monthly gridded climate data removes summer snowfall and winter melt events and hence influences the modelled mass balance most on locations with a small seasonal temperature cycle. Representative values for the multiplication factor and vertical gradient of precipitation are determined by fitting modelled winter mass balance profiles to observations on 80 glaciers in different regions. For 72 of the 80 glaciers, the precipitation provided by the climate data set has to be multiplied with a factor above unity; the median factor is 2.55. The vertical precipitation gradient ranges from negative to positive values, with more positive values for maritime glaciers and a median value of 1.5 mm a−1 m. With calibrated precipitation, the modelled annual mass balance gradient closely resembles the observations on the 80 glaciers, the absolute values are matched by adjusting either the incoming solar radiation, the temperature-dependent flux or the air temperature. The mass balance sensitivity to changes in temperature is particularly sensitive to the chosen calibration method, emphasizing the importance of well-calibrated model parameters. We additionally calculate the mass balance sensitivity to changes in incoming solar radiation, revealing that widely observed variations in irradiance can affect the mass balance by a magnitude comparable to a 1 °C change in temperature or a 10 % change in precipitation.

Global application of a surface mass balance model using gridded climate data

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