A mass-balance model based on the energy balance at the snow or ice surface is formulated, with particular attention paid to processes affecting absorption of radiation. The model is applied to a small glacier, Glacier AX010 in the Nepalese Himalaya, and tests of its mass-balance sensitivity to input and climatic parameters are carried out. Calculated and observed area-averaged mass balances of the glacier during summer 1978 (June-September) show good agreement, namely -0.44 and -0.46 m w.e., respectively.
Results show the mass balance is strongly sensitive to snow or ice albedo, to the effects of screening by surrounding mountain walls, to areal variations in multiple reflection between clouds and the glacier surface, and to thin snow covers which alter the surface albedo. In tests of the sensitivity of the mass balance to seasonal values of climatic parameters, the mass balance is found to be strongly sensitive to summer air temperature and precipitation but only weakly sensitive to relative humidity.