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Estimating glacier snow accumulation from backward calculation of melt and snowline tracking

  • John Hulth (a1), Cecilie Rolstad Denby (a1) and Regine Hock (a2) (a3)

Abstract

Estimating precipitation to determine accumulation is challenging. We present a method that combines melt modelling and snowline tracking to determine winter glacier snow accumulation along snowlines. The method assumes that the net accumulation is zero on the transient snowlines and the maximum winter accumulation at the snowline can be calculated backwards with a temperature-index melt model. To verify the method, the accumulation model is applied for the year 2004 on Storglaciären, Sweden, for which extensive meteorological and mass-balance data are available. The measured mean snowline accumulation is 0.94 ± 0.10mw.e. for 2004. Modelled accumulation, using backward melt modelling, at the same snowlines is 0.82 ± 0.25 m w.e. The accumulation model is also compared with an often used linear regression accumulation model which yields a mean snowline accumulation of 1.02 ± 0.38 m w.e. The reduction in standard error from 0.38 m w.e. to 0.25 m w.e. shows that the backward melt modelling applied at snowlines can provide a better spatial representation of the accumulation pattern than the regression model. Importantly, the applied method requires no field measurements of accumulation during the winter and snowlines can be readily traced in remotely sensed images.

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