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Accumulation at the equilibrium-line altitude of glaciers inferred from a degree-day model and tested against field observations

Braithwaite, Roger J. and Raper, Sarah C. B. and Chutko, Krys (2006) Accumulation at the equilibrium-line altitude of glaciers inferred from a degree-day model and tested against field observations. Annals of glaciology, 43 (1). pp. 329-334. ISSN 1727-5644

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Abstract

We extrapolate temperature data from a gridded climatology to the equilibrium-line altitude (ELA) of a glacier and tune a degree-day model by adjusting precipitation to give zero mass balance at the ELA. We verify the tuned model by comparing modelled accumulation with winter balance where this has been measured (presently for 180 glaciers). The modelled accumulation naturally depends upon the vertical lapse rate (VLR) for temperature and the degree-day factor (DDF) for snowmelt. Both are somewhat uncertain in high-mountain areas, but modelled accumulation and measured winter balance are in reasonable agreement for most glaciers. The degree-day model predicts a non-linear relation between accumulation and summer temperature at the ELA as assumed by many workers, but we find a family of curves rather than a single universal curve. Maritime glaciers with low annual temperature range have proportionally more accumulation than continental glaciers with high annual temperature range for a similar summer mean temperature. Averages of winter balance for the five main geographical regions where mass-balance data are available agree well with annual accumulation from the degree-day model.

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