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Glacier-climate interaction at low latitudes

  • Georg Kaser (a1)


In the low latitudes there is an absence of major thermal seasonality, yet there are three different climate regimes related to global circulation patterns and their seasonal oscillation: the humid inner tropics, the dry subtropics and, intermediate between these two, the outer tropics. For the respective glacier regimes the vertical profiles of specific mass balance (VBPs) are modeled considering vertical gradients of accumulation, air temperature and albedo, the duration of the ablation period and a factor for the ratio between melting and sublimation. The model is first calibrated with data from Hintereisferner, Austrian Alps, and is then applied to tropical conditions. The simulated VBP matches well the measured profiles from Irian jaya and Mount Kenya. Due to lack of field evidence, the subtropical VBP cannot be verified directly. However, application of the respective model versions separately to the humid and dry seasons of the outer-tropical Glaciar Uruashraju, Cordillera Blanca, Peru, provides reasonable results. Glaciers in the humid inner tropics are considered to be most sensitive to variations in air temperature, while dry subtropical glaciers are most sensitive to changes in air humidity. The two seasons of the outer tropics have to be viewed from these different perspectives.

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Journal of Glaciology
  • ISSN: 0022-1430
  • EISSN: 1727-5652
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