Application of a degree-day model to reconstruct Pleistocene glacial climates

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There is empirical evidence of a nonlinear relation between annual precipitation, or accumulation, and summer mean temperature at the equilibrium line altitude (ELA) on glaciers around the world. The degree-day model gives a similar relation between accumulation and summer temperature, although instead of a single universal curve there is a family of curves depending upon the annual temperature range. Furthermore, the degree-day model also gives nonlinear relations between accumulation and annual mean temperature. Thus, estimations of accumulation can be made from both summer and annual temperatures at the ELA of former reconstructed glaciers, such as those in Greece. This is particularly useful since these climatic variables have major implications for biological proxies, such as vegetation history indicated in the pollen record, and for periglacial proxies, such as permafrost distributions indicated in the geomorphological record. The close relationship between glaciers and climate provides one of the most precise methods for reconstructing former climates and offers considerable potential for resolving our understanding of Pleistocene cold-stage climates. © 2007 University of Washington.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-116
Number of pages6
JournalQuaternary Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008


  • Degree-day model
  • Glaciation
  • Greece
  • Palaeoclimate


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