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Closing the mass budget of a tidewater glacier: the example of Kronebreen, Svalbard


In this study, we combine remote sensing, in situ and model-derived datasets from 1966 to 2014 to calculate the mass-balance components of Kronebreen, a fast-flowing tidewater glacier in Svalbard. For the well-surveyed period 2009–2014, we are able to close the glacier mass budget within the prescribed errors. During these 5 years, the glacier geodetic mass balance was −0.69 ± 0.12 m w.e. a−1, while the mass budget method led to a total mass balance of −0.92 ± 0.16 m w.e. a−1, as a consequence of a strong frontal ablation (−0.78 ± 0.11 m w.e. a−1), and a slightly negative climatic mass balance (−0.14 ± 0.11 m w.e. a−1). The trend towards more negative climatic mass balance between 1966–1990 (+0.20 ± 0.05 m w.e. a−1) and 2009–2014 is not reflected in the geodetic mass balance trend. Therefore, we suspect a reduction in ice-discharge in the most recent period. Yet, these multidecadal changes in ice-discharge cannot be measured from the available observations and thus are only estimated with relatively large errors as a residual of the mass continuity equation. Our study presents the multidecadal evolution of the dynamics and mass balance of a tidewater glacier and illustrates the errors introduced by inferring one unmeasured mass-balance component from the others.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the same Creative Commons licence is included and the original work is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use.
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Correspondence: César Deschamps-Berger <>
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