In this study, an attempt is made to simulate the historical length variations of Hintereisferner (Austria). Key elements in the model are: (1) reconstruction of the local climate (Vent); (2) multiple linear regression analysis between measured climate and mass-balance variations; (3) reconstruction of the mass balance with (1) and (2); (4) a one-dimensional numerical ice-flow model forced by the mass-balance history. Progress relative to the previous, similar studies can be summarized as two points: (1) the mass balance is reconstructed more carefully, and (2) sensitivity experiments show that uncertainties and assumptions in the flow model hardly affect the response of the glacier to climate fluctuations with a time-scale of the order of (or larger than) the response time of the glacier (around 100 year).
In the regression equation, mass-balance fluctuations are determined by the temperature during the ablation season and the annual precipitation. Cloudiness has no effect. The local temperature can be reconstructed as far back as 1755 with the temperature series from Basel, but the reconstruction of precipitation is unreliable prior to 1900. Mainly due to this point, a simulation starting in 1755 failed completely. However, in a run starting in 1894, the total retreat since then (2.2 km) was reproduced within 10%.