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Changes in mountain glaciers and ice caps during the 20th century

  • Atsumu Ohmura (a1)
Abstract

The global mass balance of the glaciers outside Greenland and Antarctica is evaluated based on long-term mass-balance observations on 75 glaciers. The cause of the mass-balance change is investigated by examining winter and summer balances from 34 glaciers. The main finding is a common development in mass-balance changes shared by a number of glaciers separated by large distances and climatic conditions. The average mass balance for the second half of the 20th century was negative at –270 to –280 mma−1. The negative mass balance was found to be intensified at –10mm a−2. Increasing summer melt plays a dominant role in determining the long-term trend in mass balance. During the same period the mean winter mass balance increased slightly, indicating an acceleration (3 mma−2) of the hydrological cycle. On some Scandinavian glaciers the mean mass balance was not only positive but its tendency was accelerating. This trend is due to the strong precipitation increase in the last four decades. The melt/temperature relationships for the two warmer periods in the 20th century, one centred around the 1940s and the other ongoing, are different. Reduced melt in the modern warm period, in comparison with the earlier warm phase of the 1940s, is caused by the global dimming which reduced the solar radiation at the Earth’s surface during the second half of the 20th century.

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Annals of Glaciology
  • ISSN: 0260-3055
  • EISSN: 1727-5644
  • URL: /core/journals/annals-of-glaciology
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