Meteorological measurements performed during the austral summer of 1990–91 are used to evaluate the surface energy balance and ablation at an elevation of 100 m asl on the Ecology Glacier, which is an outlet glacier of the main ice cap of King George Island, Antarctica. Strong, gusty westerly winds prevail, although occasional south-easterly winds from the Weddell Sea reach the island. Generally, the climate can be characterized as relatively warm and humid with mean summer temperatures well above 0°C. As a result, considerable ablation (0.75 m water equivalent per month) takes place in the lower parts of the Ecology Glacier. The surface energy balance and ablation are calculated using a model with input from meteorological data. In spite of the large amount of cloud (0.83), solar radiation provided most of the energy used for melting (70.3 W m−2). The longwave radiation, sensible heat flux and latent heat flux contributed −9.5, 27.4 and 7.4 W m−2 respectively. Calculations show that a temperature rise of 1°C increases the ablation by almost 15%. This indicates that the ice caps and glaciers currently present on the subantarctic islands and the Antarctic Peninsula may be quite sensitive to climate change.
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