Austfonna (8120km2) is by far the largest ice mass in the Svalbard archipelago. There is considerable uncertainty about its current state of balance and its possible response to climate change. Over the 2004/05 period, we collected continuous meteorological data series from the ice cap, performed mass-balance measurements using a network of stakes distributed across the ice cap and mapped the distribution of snow accumulation using ground-penetrating radar along several profile lines. These data are used to drive and test a model of the surface mass balance. The spatial accumulation pattern was derived from the snow depth profiles using regression techniques, and ablation was calculated using a temperature-index approach. Model parameters were calibrated using the available field data. Parameter calibration was complicated by the fact that different parameter combinations yield equally acceptable matches to the stake data while the resulting calculated net mass balance differs considerably. Testing model results against multiple criteria is an efficient method to cope with non-uniqueness. In doing so, a range of different data and observations was compared to several different aspects of the model results. We find a systematic underestimation of net balance for parameter combinations that predict observed ice ablation, which suggests that refreezing processes play an important role. To represent these effects in the model, a simple P
MAX approach was included in its formulation. Used as a diagnostic tool, the model suggests that the surface mass balance for the period 29 April 2004 to 23 April 2005 was negative (–318mmw.e.).