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Static mass-balance sensitivity of Arctic glaciers and ice caps using a degree-day approach

  • Mattias De Woul (a1) and Regine Hock (a1)
Abstract

Future climate warming is predicted to be more pronounced in the Arctic where approximately two-thirds of all small glaciers on Earth are located. A simple mass-balance model was applied to 42 glaciers and ice caps north of 60° N to estimate mass-balance sensitivities to a hypothetical climate perturbation. The model is based on daily temperature and precipitation data from climate stations in the vicinity of each glacier and ice cap. A regression analysis was made using a degree-day approach where the annual sum of positive daily air temperatures was correlated to measured summer mass balance, and the total annual snow precipitation was correlated to measured winter mass balance. The net mass-balance sensitivity to a hypothetical temperature increase of +1 K ranged from -0.2 to -2.0 m a-1, and an assumed increase in precipitation of +10% changed the mass balance by <+0.1 to +0.4 m a-1, thus on average offsetting the effect of a temperature increase by approximately 20%. Maritime glaciers showed considerably higher mass-balance sensitivities than continental glaciers, in agreement with similar previous studies. The highest sensitivities were found in Iceland, exceeding those reported in previous studies. Extrapolating our results, glaciers and ice caps north of 60° N are estimated to contribute ∼0.6 mm a–1 K–1 to global sea-level rise. Our results highlight the value of long-term mass-balance records and meteorological records in remote areas.

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