Glaciological conditions in seven contrasting regions estimated with the degree-day model

Roger J. Braithwaite, Sarah C B Raper

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    We apply the degree-day model to seven glacial regions that offer contrasting conditions and are well documented in the World Glacier Inventory. The regions are: Axel Heiberg Island in Arctic Canada; Svalbard; northern Scandinavia; southern Norway; the Alps; the Caucasus; and New Zealand. We estimate the average equilibrium-line altitude (ELA) for each half-degree latitude/longitude grid square from the median elevations of glaciers within the square and we extrapolate temperature from the UEA/CRU (Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia) gridded climatology. Using the degree-day model, we calculate annual accumulation at the ELA, equal to ablation at the ELA, and other quantities like summer mean temperature, length of melt season, balance gradients and the sensitivity of mass balance to temperature and/or precipitation changes. Glaciers can be characterized on a scale from cold-dry (Axel Heiberg Island) to warm-wet (New Zealand) corresponding to the contrast between maritime and continental climates. Mass-balance sensitivities to temperature and/or precipitation changes are relatively small for dry-cold climate and relatively high for warm-wet climate. We could extend the approach to other glacier regions but we note that there are large areas for which ELA data are not available as they are still not covered by the World Glacier Inventory.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)297-302
    Number of pages5
    JournalAnnals of Glaciology
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


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