There is ongoing debate over whether Arctic sea-ice has already passed a
`tipping point', or whether it will do so in the future. Several recent studies
argue that the loss of summer sea ice does not involve an irreversible
bifurcation, because it is highly reversible in models. However, a broader
definition of a `tipping point' also includes other abrupt, non-linear changes
that are neither bifurcations nor necessarily irreversible. Examination of
satellite data for Arctic sea-ice area reveals an abrupt increase in the
amplitude of seasonal variability in 2007 that has persisted since then. We
identified this abrupt transition using recently developed methods that can
detect multi-modality in time-series data and sometimes forewarn of
bifurcations. When removing the mean seasonal cycle (up to 2008) from the
satellite data, the residual sea-ice fluctuations switch from uni-modal to
multi-modal behaviour around 2007. We originally interpreted this as a
bifurcation in which a new lower ice cover attractor appears in deseasonalised
fluctuations and is sampled in every summer-autumn from 2007 onwards. However,
this interpretation is clearly sensitive to how the seasonal cycle is removed
from the raw data, and to the presence of continental land masses restricting
winter-spring ice fluctuations. Furthermore, there was no robust early warning
signal of critical slowing down prior to the hypothesized bifurcation. Early
warning indicators do however show destabilization of the summer-autumn sea-ice
cover since 2007. Thus, the bifurcation hypothesis lacks consistent support,
but there was an abrupt and persistent increase in the amplitude of the
seasonal cycle of Arctic sea-ice cover in 2007, which we describe as a
(non-bifurcation) `tipping point'. Our statistical methods detect this `tipping
point' and its time of onset.
This work focuses on the numerical assessment of the accuracy of an
adjoint-based gradient in the perspective of variational data assimilation and
parameter identification in glaciology. Using noisy synthetic data, we quantify
the ability to identify the friction coefficient for such methods with a
non-linear friction law. The exact adjoint problem is solved, based on second
order numerical schemes, and a comparison with the so called "self-adjoint"
approximation, neglecting the viscosity dependency to the velocity (leading to
an incorrect gradient), common in glaciology, is carried out. For data with a
noise of $1\%$, a lower bound of identifiable wavelengths of $10$ ice
thicknesses in the friction coefficient is established, when using the exact
adjoint method, while the "self-adjoint" method is limited, even for lower
noise, to a minimum of $20$ ice thicknesses wavelengths. The second order exact
gradient method therefore provides robustness and reliability for the parameter
identification process. In other respect, the derivation of the adjoint model
using algorithmic differentiation leads to formulate a generalization of the
"self-adjoint" approximation towards an incomplete adjoint method, adjustable
in precision and computational burden.
The outlet glaciers to the embayment of the Larsen-B Ice Shelf started to accelerate soon after the ice shelf disintegrated in March 2002. We analyse high resolution radar images of the TerraSAR-X satellite, launched in June 2007, to map the motion of outlet glaciers in detail. The frontal velocities are used to estimate the calving fluxes for 2008/2009. As reference for pre-collapse conditions, when the glaciers were in balanced state, the ice fluxes through the same gates are computed using ice motion maps derived from interferometric data of the ERS-1/ERS-2 satellites in 1995 and 1999. Profiles of satellite laser altimetry from ICESat, crossing the terminus of several glaciers, indicate considerable glacier thinning between 2003 and 2007/2008. This is taken into account for defining the calving cross sections. The difference between the pre- and post-collapse fluxes provides an estimate on the mass imbalance. For the Larsen-B embayment the 2008 mass deficit is estimated at 4.34 ± 1.64 Gt a-1, significantly lower than previously published values. The ice flow acceleration follows a similar pattern on the various glaciers, gradually decreasing in magnitude with distance upstream from the calving front. This suggests stress perturbation at the glacier front being the main factor for acceleration. So far there are no signs of slow-down indicating that dynamic thinning and frontal retreat will go on.
In the framework of the International Partnerships in Ice Core Sciences, one of the most important targets is to retrieve an Antarctic ice core that extends over the last 1.5 million years (i.e. an ice core that enters the climate era when glacial–interglacial cycles followed the obliquity cycles of the earth). In such an ice core the annual layers of the oldest ice would be thinned by a factor of about 100 and the climatic information of a 10 000 yr interval would be contained in less than 1 m of ice. The gas record in such an Antarctic ice core can potentially reveal the role of greenhouse gas forcing on these 40 000 yr cycles. However, besides the extreme thinning of the annual layers, also the long residence time of the trapped air in the ice and the relatively high ice temperatures near the bedrock favour diffusive exchanges. To investigate the changes in the O2/N2 ratio, as well as the trapped CO2 concentrations, we modelled the diffusive exchange of the trapped gases O2, N2 and CO2 along the vertical axis. However, the boundary conditions of a potential drilling site are not yet well constrained and the uncertainties in the permeation coefficients of the air constituents in the ice are large. In our simulations, we have set the drill site ice thickness at 2700 m and the bedrock ice temperature at 5–10 K below the ice pressure melting point. Using these conditions and including all further uncertainties associated with the drill site and the permeation coefficients, the results suggest that in the oldest ice the precessional variations in the O2/N2 ratio will be damped by 50–100 %, whereas CO2 concentration changes associated with glacial–interglacial variations will likely be conserved (simulated damping 5 %). If the precessional O2/N2 signal will have disappeared completely in this future ice core, orbital tuning of the ice-core age scale will be limited.
Even though the specific surface area (SSA) and the snow area index (SAI) of snow are crucial variables to determine the chemical and climatic impact of the snow cover, few data are available on the subject. We propose here a novel method to measure snow SSA and SAI. It is based on the measurement of the hemispherical infrared reflectance of snow samples using the DUFISSS instrument (DUal Frequency Integrating Sphere for Snow SSA measurement). DUFISSS uses the 1310 or 1550 nm radiation of laser diodes, an integrating sphere 15 cm in diameter, and InGaAs photodiodes. For SSA2 kg−1, we use the 1310 nm radiation, reflectance is between 15 and 50% and the accuracy of SSA determination is 10%. For SSA>60 m2 kg−1, snow is usually of low density (typically 30 to 100 kg m−3), resulting in insufficient optical depth and 1310 nm radiation reaches the bottom of the sample, causing artifacts. The 1550 nm radiation is therefore used for SSA>60 m2 kg−1. Reflectance is then in the range 5 to 12% and the accuracy on SSA is 12%. We propose empirical equations to determine SSA from reflectance at both wavelengths, with that for 1310 nm taking into account the snow density. DUFISSS has been used to measure the SSA of snow and the SAI of snowpacks in polar and Alpine regions.
We present a method to estimate the glacier contribution to sea-level rise from glacier length records. These records form the only direct evidence of glacier changes prior to 1946, when the first systematic mass-balance observations began. A globally representative length signal is calculated from 197 length records from all continents by normalisation and averaging of 14 different regions. Next, the resulting signal is calibrated with mass-balance observations for the period 1961–2000. We find that the glacier contribution to sea level rise was 5.5±1.0 cm during the period 1850–2000 and 4.5±0.7 cm during the period 1900–2000.
A Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) scene from 2003 covering the Jotunheimen and Breheimen region has been used to map the recent glacier extents using thresholded ratio images (TM3/TM5). Orthoprojected aerial photographs and glacier outlines from digital maps have been used to validate the method and control the results. We further calculated glacier changes by comparing the Landsat-derived 2003 glacier outlines with previous maps and inventories from the 1930s, 1960s and 1980s. Our results confirm that the applied automatic mapping method is very robust and agrees precisely with the reference data used. Some manual editing was necessary to correct the outline at ice-lake contacts and at debris covered glaciers. However, for most of the glaciers no corrections were required. The most laborious task has been to assign ID numbers and couple the new Landsat inventory to previous inventories to assess area changes. The glaciers investigated shrank since the 1930s with an overall area reduction of about 23% for 38 glaciers. Since the 1960s the area reduction was 12% for 164 glaciers. Although the general trend is glacier retreat and area reduction, some glaciers have increased their size or remained nearly unchanged over the last decades.
The Taku Glacier, Alaska has advanced 7.5 km since the late nineteenth century, while all other primary outlet glaciers of the Juneau Icefield are in retreat. The Juneau Icefield Research Program has completed field work on the Taku Glacier annually since 1946. The collected observations of surface mass balance, glacier velocity and glacier thickness at Profile IV 29 km above the terminus and 4 km above the equilibrium line provide a means to assess the equilibrium nature of the Taku Glacier. Velocity measured over a twelve month span and annual summer velocity measurements completed at a Profile IV from 1950?2006 indicate insignificant variations in velocity seasonally or from year to year. The consistency of velocity over the 56-year period indicates that in the vicinity of the equilibrium line, the flow of the Taku Glacier has been in an equilibrium state.
Surface mass balance was positive from 1946?1988 averaging +0.42 m a<sup>?1</sup>. This led to glacier thickening. From 1988?2006 an important change has occurred and annual balance has been ?0.14 m a<sup>?1</sup>, and the glacier thickness has ceased increasing along Profile IV.
Field measurements of ice depth and surface velocity allow calculation of the volume flux at Profile IV. Volume flux is then compared with the surface balance flux from the region of the glacier above Profile IV, determined annually in the field. Above Profile IV the observed mean surface flux is 5.50×10<sup>8</sup> m<sup>3</sup>/a (±5%), while the calculated volume flux range flowing through profile IV is 5.00?5.47×10<sup>8</sup> m<sup>3</sup>/a. The mean surface flux has been greater than the volume flux, which has led to slow thickening of the Taku Glacier up to 1988. The thickening has not led to a change in the flow of Taku Glacier at Profile IV.
To study near-surface melt changes over the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) since 1979, melt extent estimates from two regional climate models are compared with those obtained from spaceborne microwave brightness temperatures using two different remote sensing algorithms. Results from the two models are consistent with those obtained with the remote sensing algorithms, at both daily and yearly time scales, encouraging the use of the models for analyzing melting trends before the satellite era (1958–1979), when forcing data is available. Differences between satellite-derived and model-simulated results still occur and are here used to identify (i) biases in the snow models (notably in the albedo parametrization, in the thickness of a snow layer, in the maximum liquid water content within the snowpack and in the snowfall impacting the bare ice appearance in summer) and (ii) limitations in the use of passive microwave data for snowmelt detection at the edge of the ice sheet due to mixed pixel effect (e.g., tundra or rock nearby the ice sheet). Results from models and spaceborne microwave sensors confirm a significant (p-value = 0.01) increase in GrIS surface melting since 1979. Melt extent recorded over the last years (1998, 2003, 2005 and 2007) is unprecedented in the last 50 years with the cumulated melt area in the 2000's being, on the average, twice as that occurring during the 1980's.
Seasonal glaciological mass balances have been measured on Storglaciären without interruption since 1945/46. In addition, aerial surveys have been carried out on a decadal basis since the beginning of the observation program. Early studies had used the resulting aerial photographs to produce topographic glacier maps with which the in-situ observations could be verified. However, these maps as well as the derived volume changes are subject to errors which resulted in major differences between the derived volumetric and the glaciological mass balance. As a consequence, the original photographs were re-processed using uniform photogrammetric methods, which resulted in new volumetric mass balances for 1959–69, 1969–80, 1980–90, and 1990–99. We compared these new volumetric mass balances with mass balances obtained by standard glaciological methods including an uncertainty assessment considering all related previous studies. The absolute differences between volumetric and the glaciological mass balances are 0.8 m w.e. for the period of 1959–69 and 0.3 m w.e. or less for the other survey periods. These deviations are slightly reduced when considering corrections for systematic uncertainties due to differences in survey dates, reference areas, and internal ablation, whereas internal accumulation systematically increases the mismatch. However, the mean annual differences between glaciological and volumetric mass balance are less than the uncertainty of the in-situ stake reading and stochastic error bars of both data series overlap. Hence, no adjustment of the glaciological data series to the volumetric one is required.
Storglaciären, located in the Kebnekaise massif in northern Sweden, has a long history of glaciological research. Early photo documentations date back to the late 19th century. Measurements of front position variations and distributed mass balance have been carried out since 1910 and 1945/46, respectively. In addition to these in-situ measurements, aerial photographs have been taken at decadal intervals since the beginning of the mass balance monitoring program and were used to produce topographic glacier maps. Inaccuracies in the maps were a challenge to early attempts to derive glacier volume changes and resulted in major differences when compared to the direct glaciological mass balances. In this study, we reanalyzed dia-positives of the original aerial photographs of 1959, -69, -80, -90 and -99 based on consistent photogrammetric processing. From the resulting digital elevation models and orthophotos, changes in length, area, and volume of Storglaciären were computed between the survey years, including an assessment of related errors. Between 1959 and 1999, Storglaciären lost an ice volume of 19×106 m3, which corresponds to a cumulative ice thickness loss of 5.69 m and a mean annual loss of 0.14 m. This ice loss resulted largely from a strong volume loss during the period 1959–80 and was partly compensated during the period 1980–99. As a consequence, the glacier shows a strong retreat in the 1960s, a slowing in the 1970s, and pseudo-stationary conditions in the 1980s and 1990s.
Visible satellite imagery from the 1964 Nimbus I satellite has been
recovered, digitized, and processed to estimate Arctic and Antarctic sea
ice extent for September 1964. September is the month when the Arctic
sea ice reaches its minimum annual extent and the Antarctic sea ice
reaches its maximum. Images from a three-week period were manually
analyzed to estimate the location of the ice edge and then composited to
obtain a hemispheric estimate. Uncertainties were based on limitations
in the image analysis and the variation of the ice cover over the
three-week period. The 1964 Antarctic extent is higher than estimates
from the 1979-present passive microwave record, but is in accord with
previous indications of higher extents during the 1960s. The Arctic 1964
extent is near the 1979-2000 average from the passive microwave record,
suggesting relatively stable summer extents during the 1960s and 1970s
preceding the downward trend since 1979 and particularly the large
decrease in the last decade. These early satellite data put the recently
observed record into a longer-term context.
Results from a 28-year simulation (1979?2006) over the Greenland ice sheet (GIS) reveal an increase of the solid precipitation (+0.4±2.5 km<sup>3</sup> yr<sup>?2</sup>) and the run-off (+7.9±3.3 km<sup>3</sup> yr<sup>?2</sup>) of surface melt water. The net effect of these competing factors leads to a significant Surface Mass Balance (SMB) loss rate of ?7.2±5.1 km<sup>3</sup> yr<sup>?2</sup>. The contribution of changes in the net water vapour fluxes (+0.02±0.09 km<sup>3</sup> yr<sup>?2</sup>) and rainfall (+0.2±0.2 km<sup>3</sup> yr<sup>?2</sup>) to the SMB variability is negligible. The melt water supply has increased because the GIS surface has been warming up +2.4°C since 1979. Latent heat flux, sensible heat flux and net solar radiation have not varied significantly over the last three decades. However, the simulated downward infra-red flux has increased by 9.3 W m<sup>?2</sup> since 1979. The natural climate variability (e.g. the North Atlantic Oscillation) does not explain these changes on the GIS. The recent global warming, due to the greenhouse gas concentration increase induced by the human activities, could be a cause of these changes. The doubling of the surface melt water flux into the ocean over the period 1979?2006 suggests that the overall ice sheet mass balance has been increasingly negative, given the probable meltwater-induced outlet glacier acceleration. This study suggests that an increased melting dominates over an increased accumulation in a warming scenario and that the GIS would likely continue to loose mass in the future. A GIS melting would have an effect on the stability of the thermohaline circulation (THC) and the global sea level rise.
This study provides insights into surface mass-balance (SMB) and runoff exiting the Watson River drainage basin, Kangerlussuaq, West Greenland during a 30 year period (1978/1979–2007/2008) when the climate experienced increasing temperatures and precipitation. The 30-year simulations quantify the terrestrial freshwater output from part of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) and the land between the GrIS and the ocean, in the context of global warming and increasing GrIS surface melt. We used a snow-evolution modeling system (SnowModel) to simulate the winter accumulation and summer ablation processes, including runoff and SMB, of the ice sheet: indicating that the simulated equilibrium line altitude (ELA) was in accordance with independent observations. To a large extent, the SMB fluctuations could be explained by changes in net precipitation (precipitation minus evaporation and sublimation), with 8 out of 30 years having negative SMB, mainly because of relatively low annual net precipitation. The overall trend in net precipitation and runoff increased significantly, while SMB increased insignificantly throughout the simulation period, leading to enhanced precipitation of 0.59 km3 w.eq. (or ~60%), runoff of 0.43 km3 w.eq. (or ~55%), and SMB of 0.16 km3 w.eq. (or ~85%). Runoff rose on average from 0.80 km3 w.eq. in 1978/1979 to 1.23 km3 w.eq. in 2007/2008. The GrIS satellite-derived melt-extent increased significantly, and the melting intensification occurred simultaneously with the increase in local Kangerlussuaq runoff, indicating that satellite data can be used as a proxy (r2=0.64) for runoff from the Kangerlussuaq drainage area.
North Cascade glacier annual balance measured on 10 glaciers from 1984?2006 yielded mean annual balance (b<sub> a </sub>) of ?0.54 m/a, and ?12.38 m cumulatively. This is a significant loss for glaciers that average 30?60 m in thickness, 20?40% of their entire volume. Two observed glaciers, Lewis Glacier and Spider Glacier, no longer exist.
The b<sub> a </sub> of North Cascade glaciers is reliably calculated, correlation coefficient 0.91, using 1 April snowpack water equivalent and ablation season temperature. Utilizing b<sub> a </sub> from 10 glaciers 1984?2006 and net balance (b<sub> n </sub>) from South Cascade 1960?2005, a set of forecast rules for glacier mass balance were derived utilizing October?April Pacific Decadal Oscillation and Multivariate El Nino Southern Oscillation index values. The forecast rules provide a correct assessment in 41 of the 46 years for South Cascade Glacier and 20 of 23 years for NCGCP glaciers. Glacier annual balance forecasting is an important step for summer water resource management in glacier runoff dominated stream systems. The forecast for North Cascade glaciers in 2007 is for a negative b<sub> a </sub>.
The northern Antarctic Peninsula has recently exhibited ice-shelf
disintegration, glacier recession and acceleration. However, the dynamic
response of land-terminating, ice-shelf tributary and tidewater glaciers
has not yet been quantified or assessed for variability, and there are
sparse data for glacier classification, morphology, area, length or
altitude. This paper firstly classifies the area, length, altitude,
slope, aspect, geomorphology, type and hypsometry of 194 glaciers on
Trinity Peninsula, Vega Island and James Ross Island in 2009 AD.
Secondly, this paper documents glacier change 1988-2009. In 2009, the
glacierised area was 8140±262 km2. From 1988-2001, 90%
of glaciers receded, and from 2001-2009, 79% receded. This equates to an
area change of -4.4% for Trinity Peninsula eastern coast glaciers, -0.6%
for western coast glaciers, and -35.0% for ice-shelf tributary glaciers
from 1988-2001. Tidewater glaciers on the drier, cooler eastern Trinity
Peninsula experienced fastest shrinkage from 1988-2001, with limited
frontal change after 2001. Glaciers on the western Trinity Peninsula
shrank less than those on the east. Land-terminating glaciers on James
Ross Island shrank fastest in the period 1988-2001. This east-west
difference is largely a result of orographic temperature and
precipitation gradients across the Antarctic Peninsula, with warming
temperatures affecting the precipitation-starved glaciers on the eastern
coast more than on the western coast. Reduced shrinkage on the western
Peninsula may be a result of higher snowfall, perhaps in conjunction
with the fact that these glaciers are mostly grounded. Rates of area
loss on the eastern side of Trinity Peninsula are slowing, which we
attribute to the floating ice tongues receding into the fjords and
reaching a new dynamic equilibrium. The rapid shrinkage of tidewater
glaciers on James Ross Island is likely to continue because of their low
elevations and flat profiles. In contrast, the higher and steeper
tidewater glaciers on the eastern Antarctic Peninsula will attain more
stable frontal positions after low-lying ablation areas are removed,
reaching equilibrium more quickly.
With the aim to force an ice dynamical model, the Greenland ice sheet
(GrIS) surface mass balance (SMB) was modelled at different spatial
resolutions (15-50 km) for the period 1990-2010, using the regional
climate model MAR (Modèle Atmosphérique Régional)
forced by the ERA-INTERIM reanalysis. This comparison revealed that (i)
the inter-annual variability of the SMB components is consistent within
the different spatial resolutions investigated, (ii) the MAR model
simulates heavier precipitation on average over the GrIS with decreasing
spatial resolution, and (iii) the SMB components (except precipitation)
can be derived from a simulation at lower resolution with an
"intelligent" interpolation. This interpolation can also be used to
approximate the SMB components over another topography/ice sheet mask of
the GrIS. These results are important for the forcing of an ice
dynamical model needed to enable future projections of the GrIS
contribution to sea level rise over the coming centuries.
Marine-terminating outlet glaciers of the Greenland Ice Sheet have
undergone substantial changes over the past decade. The synchronicity of
these changes suggest a regional external forcing, such as changes in
coastal ocean heat transport and/or increased surface melt and
subglacial runoff. A distinct contrast in rates of ice front retreat has
been observed between glaciers north and south of 69° N latitude on
along the East Greenland coast. This latitude corresponds with the
northward limit of subtropical waters carried by the Irminger Current,
suggesting variability in ocean heat transport as the dominant forcing.
Glacier surging, however, is yet another mechanism of change in this
region. In order to provide further spatial and temporal constraint on
glacier change across this important oceanographic transition zone, we
construct time series of thinning, retreat and flow speed of 37
marine-terminating glaciers along the central east Greenland coast from
2000 to 2010. We assess this dataset for spatial and temporal patterns
that may elucidate the mechanisms of glacier change. We confirm that
glacial retreat, dynamical thinning, and acceleration have been more
pronounced south of 69° N, with a high degree of variability along
the Blosseville Coast and little inter-annual change in Scoresby Sound.
Our results support the conclusion that variability in coastal ocean
heat transport is the primary driver of regional glacier change, but
that local factors, such as surging and/or individual glacier
morphology, are overprinted on this regional signal.
Analysis of passive microwave brightness temperatures from the space-borne Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) documents a record surface snowmelt over high elevations (above 2000 m) of the Greenland ice sheet during summer of 2007. To interpret this record, results from the SSM/I are examined in conjunction with fields from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction/National Center for Atmospheric Research reanalysis and output from a regional climate model. The record surface melt reflects unusually warm conditions, seen in positive summertime anomalies of surface air temperatures, downwelling longwave radiation, 1000?500 hPa atmospheric thickness, and the net surface energy flux, linked in turn to southerly airflow over the ice sheet. Low snow accumulation may have contributed to the record through promoting anomalously low surface albedo.
The first record of dust deposition events on Mt. Elbrus, Caucasus
Mountains derived from a snow pit and a shallow firn core is presented
for the 2009-2012 period. A combination of isotopic analysis, SEVIRI
red-green-blue composite imagery, MODIS atmospheric optical depth fields
derived using the Deep Blue algorithm, air mass trajectories derived
using the HYSPLIT model and analyses of meteorological data enabled
identification of dust source regions with high temporal (hours) and
spatial (ca. 20-100 km) resolution. Seventeen dust deposition events
were detected; fourteen occurred in March-June, one in February and two
in October. Four events originated in the Sahara, predominantly in
northeastern Libya and eastern Algeria. Thirteen events originated in
the Middle East, in the Syrian Desert and northern Mesopotamia, from a
mixture of natural and anthropogenic sources. Dust transportation from
Sahara was associated with vigorous Saharan depressions, strong surface
winds in the source region and mid-tropospheric southwesterly flow with
daily winds speeds of 20-30 m s-1 at 700 hPa level. Although
these events were less frequent than those originating in the Middle
East, they resulted in higher dust concentrations in snow. Dust
transportation from the Middle East was associated with weaker
depressions forming over the source region, high pressure centred over
or extending towards the Caspian Sea and a weaker southerly or
southeasterly flow towards the Caucasus Mountains with daily wind speeds
of 12-18 m s-1 at 700 hPa level. Higher concentrations of
nitrates and ammonium characterised dust from the Middle East deposited
on Mt. Elbrus in 2009 indicating contribution of anthropogenic sources.
The modal values of particle size distributions ranged between 1.98
μm and 4.16 μm. Most samples were characterised by modal values of
2.0-2.8 μm with an average of 2.6 μm and there was no significant
difference between dust from the Sahara and the Middle East.
Glaciers respond to mass balance changes by adjusting their surface elevation and area. These properties in their turn affect the local and area-averaged mass balance. To incorporate this interdependence in the response of glaciers to climate change, models should include an interactive scheme coupling mass balance and ice dynamics. In this study, a spatially distributed mass balance model, comprising surface energy balance calculations, was coupled to a vertically integrated ice-flow model based on the shallow ice approximation. The coupled model was applied to the ice cap Hardangerjøkulen in southern Norway. The available glacio-meteorological records, mass balance and glacier length change measurements were utilized for model calibration and validation. Forced with meteorological data from nearby synoptic weather stations, the coupled model realistically simulated the observed mass balance and glacier length changes during the 20th century. The mean climate for the period 1961–1990, computed from local meteorological data, was used as a basis to prescribe climate projections for the 21st century at Hardangerjøkulen. For a linear temperature increase of 3 °C from 1961–1990 to 2071–2100, the modelled net mass balance soon becomes negative at all altitudes and Hardangerjøkulen disappears around the year 2100. The projected changes in the other meteorological variables could at most partly compensate for the effect of the projected warming.
Permafrost and related thermo-hydro-mechanical processes are thought to
influence high alpine rock wall stability, but a lack of field measurements
means that the characteristics and processes of rock wall permafrost are
poorly understood. To help remedy this situation, in 2005 work began to
install a monitoring system at the Aiguille du Midi (3842 m a.s.l). This
paper presents temperature records from nine surface sensors (eight years of
records) and three 10 m deep boreholes (4 years of records), installed at
locations with different surface and bedrock characteristics. In line with
previous studies, our temperature data analyses showed that:
micro-meteorology controls the surface temperature, active layer thicknesses
are directly related to aspect and ranged from
The mass balance of ice sheets is an intensively studied topic in the
context of global change and sea-level rise. However - particularly in
Antarctica - obtaining mass balance estimates remains difficult due to
various logistical problems. In the framework of the TASTE-IDEA
(Trans-Antarctic Scientific Traverses Expeditions - Ice Divide of East
Antarctica) program, an International Polar Year project, continuous
ground penetrating radar (GPR) measurements were carried out during a
traverse in Adelie Land (East Antarctica) during the 2008-2009 austral
summer between the Italian-French Dome C (DC) polar plateau site and
French Dumont D'Urville (DdU) coastal station. The aim of this study was
to process and interpret GPR data in terms of snow accumulation, to
analyse its spatial and temporal variability and compare it with
historical data and modelling. The focus was on the last 300 yr, from
the pre-industrial period to recent times. Beta-radioactivity counting
and gamma spectrometry were applied to cores at the LGGE laboratory,
providing a depth-age calibration for radar measurements. Over the 600
km of usable GPR data, depth and snow accumulation were determined with
the help of three distinct layers visible on the radargrams (≈ 1730,
1799 and 1941 AD). Preliminary results reveal a gradual increase in
accumulation towards the coast (from ≈ 3 cm w.e. a-1 at
Dome C to ≈ 17 cm w.e. a-1 at the end of the transect) and
previously undocumented undulating structures between 300 and 600 km
from DC. Results agree fairly well with data from previous studies and
modelling. Drawing final conclusions on temporal variations is difficult
because of the margin of error introduced by density estimation. This
study should have various applications, including model validation.
We present four years of surface mass balance data from the ablation zone of the west Greenland ice sheet along the 67° N latitude circle. Sonic height rangers and automatic weather stations continuously measured accumulation/ablation and near-surface climate at distances of 6, 38 and 88 km from the ice sheet margin at elevations of 490, 1020 and 1520 m a.s.l. Using a melt model and reasonable assumptions about snow density and percolation characteristics, these data are used to quantify the partitioning of energy and mass fluxes during melt episodes. The lowest site receives very little winter accumulation, and ice melting is nearly continuous in June, July and August. Due to the lack of snow accumulation, little refreezing occurs and virtually all melt energy is invested in runoff. Higher up the ice sheet, the ice sheet surface freezes up during the night, making summer melting intermittent. At the intermediate site, refreezing in snow consumes about 10% of the melt energy, increasing to 40% at the highest site. The sum of these effects is that total melt and runoff increase exponentially towards the ice sheet margin, each time doubling between the stations. At the two lower sites, we estimate that radiation penetration causes 20–30% of the ice melt to occur below the surface.
A range of englacial temperature measurements was acquired in the Monte Rosa area at the border of Switzerland and Italy in the years 1982, 1991, 1994, 1995, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2007 and 2008. While the englacial temperatures revealed no evidence of warming at the firn saddle of Colle Gnifetti at 4452 m a.s.l. between 1982 and 1991, the 1991 to 2000 period showed an increase of 0.05 °C per year at a depth of 20 m. From 2000 to 2008 a further increase of 1.3 °C or (0.16 °C per year) was observed. The measured temperatures give clear evidence of accelerated glacier warming since 1991. The observed increase since 2000 is far beyond a modelled firn temperature increase based on the IPCC climate scenario from 2001. Air temperature records from the Jungfraujoch high-altitude station (MeteoSwiss-Station) from 1980 to 2008 show a mean annual increase of 0.05 °C per year, indicating that the amount of infiltrating and refreezing of meltwater at Colle Gnifetti has increased since 2000. The drill sites on Colle Gnifetti are, however, still located in the recrystallisation-infiltration zone and only marginally affected by meltwater.
A much stronger warming of 6.8 °C was found at locations beneath Colle Gnifetti from 1991 to 2008. This warming is one order of magnitude greater than the atmospheric warming and can be explained only by a strong increase in the latent heat input by infiltrating and refreezing meltwater. The observations indicate that since 1991, an important firn area beneath Colle Gnifetti has already undergone a firn facies change from the recrystallisation-infiltration to the cold infiltration zone due to an increasing supply of surface melt energy.
Pine Island Glacier, Antarctica, has been undergoing several related changes for at least two decades; these include acceleration, thinning and grounding line retreat. During the first major ground-based study between 2006 and 2008, GPS receivers were used to monitor ice flow from 55 km to 171 km inland, along the central flowline. At four sites both acceleration and thinning rates over the last two years exceeded rates observed at any other time over the last two decades. At the downstream site acceleration was 6.4% over 2007 and thinning was 3.5±0.5 ma−1. Acceleration and thinning have spread rapidly inland with the acceleration 171 km inland at 4.1% over 2007, greater than any measured annual flow increase along the whole glacier prior to 2006. Increases in surface slope, and hence gravitational driving stress, correlate well with the acceleration and no sustained change in longitudinal stress gradient is needed to explain the force balance. There is no indication that the glacier is approaching a new steady state.
We present steady state (diagnostic) and transient (prognostic) simulations of Midtre Lovénbreen, Svalbard performed with the thermo-mechanically coupled full-Stokes code Elmer. This glacier has an extensive data set of geophysical measurements available spanning several decades, that allow for constraints on model descriptions. Consistent with this data set, we included a simple model accounting for the formation of superimposed ice. Diagnostic results indicated that a dynamic adaptation of the free surface is necessary, to prevent non-physically high velocities in a region of under determined bedrock depths. Observations from ground penetrating radar of the basal thermal state agree very well with model predictions, while the dip angles of isochrones in radar data also match reasonably well with modelled isochrones, despite the numerical deficiencies of estimating ages with a steady state model.
Prognostic runs for 53 years, using a constant accumulation/ablation pattern starting from the steady state solution obtained from the configuration of the 1977 DEM show that: 1 the unrealistic velocities in the under determined parts of the DEM quickly damp out; 2 the free surface evolution matches well measured elevation changes; 3 the retreat of the glacier under this scenario continues with the glacier tongue in a projection to 2030 being situated ≈500 m behind the position in 1977.
Satellite records of microwave surface emission have been used to interpolate in-situ observations of Antarctic surface mass balance (SMB) and build continental-scale maps of accumulation. Using a carefully screened subset of accumulation measurements in the 90°–180° E sector, we show a reasonable agreement with microwave-based accumulation map in the dry-snow regions, but large discrepancies in the coastal regions where melt occurs during summer. Using an emission microwave model, we explain the failure of microwave sensors to retrieve accumulation by the presence of layers created by melt/re-freeze cycles. We conclude that regions potentially affected by melting should be masked-out in microwave-based interpolation schemes.
Temperate alpine glacier survival is dependent on the consistent presence of an accumulation zone. Frequent low accumulation area ratio values, below 30%, indicate the lack of a consistent accumulation zone, which leads to substantial thinning of the glacier in the accumulation zone. This thinning is often evident from substantial marginal recession, emergence of new rock outcrops and surface elevation decline in the accumulation zone. In the North Cascades 9 of the 12 examined glaciers exhibit characteristics of substantial accumulation zone thinning; marginal recession or emergent bedrock areas in the accumulation zone. The longitudinal profile thinning factor, f, which is a measure of the ratio of thinning in the accumulation zone to that at the terminus, is above 0.6 for all glaciers exhibiting accumulation zone thinning characteristics. The ratio of accumulation zone thinning to cumulative mass balance is above 0.5 for glacier experiencing substantial accumulation zone thinning. Without a consistent accumulation zone these glaciers are forecast not to survive the current climate or future additional warming. The results vary considerably with adjacent glaciers having a different survival forecast. This emphasizes the danger of extrapolating survival from one glacier to the next.
We present an improved method for estimating accumulation and compaction rates of dry snow in Antarctica with ground penetrating radar (GPR). Using an estimate of the emitted waveform from direct measurements, we apply deterministic deconvolution via the Fourier domain to GPR data with a nominal frequency of 500 MHz. This reveals unambiguous reflection horizons which can be observed in repeat measurements made one year apart. At two measurement sites near Scott Base, Antarctica, we extrapolate point measurements of average accumulation from snow pits and firn cores to a larger area by identifying a dateable dust layer horizon in the radargrams. Over an 800 m × 800 m area on the McMurdo Ice Shelf (77°45´ S, 167°17´ E) the average accumulation is found to be 269 ± 9 kg m−2 a−1. The accumulation over an area of 400 m × 400 m on Ross Island (77°40´ S, 167°11´ E, 350 m a.s.l.) is found to be higher (404 ± 22 kg m−2 a−1) and shows increased variability related to undulating terrain. Compaction of snow between 2 m and 13 m depth is estimated at both sites by tracking several internal reflection horizons along the radar profiles and calculating the average change in separation of horizon pairs from one year to the next. The derived compaction rates range from 7 cm m−1 at a depth of 2 m, down to no measurable compaction at 13 m depth, and are similar to published values from point measurements.
We present estimates of accumulation rate along a 200 km transect ranging in elevation from 2750 to 3150 m in the dry snow zone on the western slope of the Greenland Ice Sheet. An airborne radar altimeter is used to estimate the thickness of annual internal layers and, in conjunction with ground based snow/firn density profiles, annual accumulation rates between 1998 and 2003 are derived. A clear gradient in the thickness of each layer observed by the radar altimeter and in the associated estimates of annual accumulation is seen along the transect, with a 33.6% ± 16% mean decrease in accumulation from west to east. The observed inter-annual variability is high, with the annual mean accumulation rate estimated at 0.359 m.w.e. yr−1 (s.d. ± 0.049 m.w.e. yr−1). Mean accumulation rates modelled using meteorological models overestimate our results by 16% on average, but by 32% and 42% in the years 2001 and 2002. The methodology presented here demonstrates the potential to obtain accurate and spatially extensive accumulation rates from radar altimeters in regions of ice sheets where field observations are sparse, and accumulation rates greater than several tens of cm.
The advance of a glacier over a deforming sediment layer is analysed numerically. We treat this problem as a contact problem involving two slowly-deforming viscous bodies. The surface evolution of both bodies, and that of the contact interface between them, is followed in time. Using various different till rheologies we show how the mode of advance depends on the relative effective viscosities of ice and till. Three modes of advances are observed: 1) overriding, where the glacier advances through ice deformation only and without deforming the sediment; 2) plug-flow, where the sediment is strongly deformed, the ice moves forward as a block and a bulge is built in front of the glacier; and 3) mixed-flow, where the glacier overrides deforming sediment. An inverse depth-age relationship is obtained for a glacier advance by both overriding and mixed-flow. An additional model experiment, using a till with near plastic rheology, shows that the contrast in effective viscosity between ice and till is the single most important model parameter defining the mode of advance and the resulting thickness distribution of the till. Furthermore, the model calculations imply that measurements of sediment thickness and sediment deformation taken close to the glacier front significantly overestimate the average sediment thickness and displacement due to sediment deformation. Given sufficiently large contrast in effective viscosity between ice and till, a sediment bulge is formed in front of the glacier. During glacier advance, the bulge quickly reaches a steady state form strongly resembling single-crested push moraines. Inspection of particle paths within the sediment bulge, shows the material particle of the till to travel at different speed to that of the bulge itself, and the push moraine to advance as a form-conserving non-linear wave.
Weichselian cryogenic calcites collected in what is referred to as the Rätselhalle of the Herbstlabyrinth-Advent Cave system are structurally classified as rhombohedral crystals and spherulitic aggregates. The carbon and oxygen isotopic composition of these precipitates ( δ <sup>13</sup>C = +0.6 to −7.3‰ δ <sup>18</sup>O = −6.9 to −18.0‰) corresponds to those of known slowly precipitated cryogenic cave calcites under conditions of isotopic equilibrium between water and ice of Central European caves. The carbon and oxygen isotopic composition varies between different caves which is attributed to the effects of cave air ventilation before the freezing started.
By petrographic and geochemical comparisons of Weichselian cryogenic calcite with recent to sub-recent precipitates as well as Weichselian non-cryogenic calcites of the same locality, a model for the precipitation of these calcites is proposed. While the recent and sub-recent pool-calcites isotopically match the composition of interglacial speleothems (stalagmites, etc.), isotope ratios of Weichselian non-cryogenic pool-calcites reflect cooler conditions. Weichselian cryogenic calcites show a trend towards low δ <sup>18</sup>O values with higher carbon isotope ratios reflecting slow freezing of the precipitating solution. In essence, the isotope geochemistry of the Weichselian calcites reflects the climate history changing from overall initial permafrost conditions to permafrost-free and subsequently to renewed permafrost conditions. Judging from the data compiled here, the last permafrost stage in the Rätselhalle is followed by a warm period (interstadial and/or Holocene). During this warmer period, the cave ice melted and cryogenic and non-cryogenic Weichselian calcite precipitates were deposited on the cave ground or on fallen blocks, respectively.
The influence of spatial surface temperature changes over the Arctic
Ocean on the 2-m air temperature variability is estimated using backward
trajectories based on ERA-Interim and JRA25 wind fields. They are
initiated at Alert, Barrow and at the Tara drifting station. Three
different methods are used. The first one compares mean ice surface
temperatures along the trajectories to the observed 2-m air temperatures
at the stations. The second one correlates the observed temperatures to
air temperatures obtained using a simple Lagrangian box model that only
includes the effect of sensible heat fluxes. For the third method, mean
sensible heat fluxes from the model are correlated with the difference
of the air temperatures at the model starting point and the observed
temperatures at the stations. The calculations are based on MODIS ice
surface temperatures and four different sets of ice concentration
derived from SSM/I (Special Sensor Microwave Imager) and AMSR-E
(Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for EOS) data. Under nearly
cloud-free conditions, up to 90% of the 2-m air temperature variance can
be explained for Alert, and 70% for Barrow, using these methods. The
differences are attributed to the different ice conditions, which are
characterized by high ice concentration around Alert and lower ice
concentration near Barrow. These results are robust for the different
sets of reanalyses and ice concentration data. Trajectories based on
10-m wind fields from both reanalyses show large spatial differences in
the Central Arctic, leading to differences in the correlations between
modeled and observed 2-m air temperatures. They are most pronounced at
Tara, where explained variances amount to 70% using JRA and 80% using
ERA. The results also suggest that near-surface temperatures at a given
site are influenced by the variability of surface temperatures in a
domain of about 200 km radius around the site.
Air temperature changes were applied to a regional model of permafrost
probability under equilibrium conditions for an area of nearly 0.5
× 106 km2 in the southern Yukon and
northwestern British Columbia, Canada. Associated environmental changes,
including snow cover and vegetation, were not considered in the
modelling. Permafrost extent increases from 58% of the area (present
day: 1971-2000) to 76% under a -1 K cooling scenario, whereas warming
scenarios decrease the percentage of permafrost area exponentially to
38% (+ 1 K), 24% (+ 2 K), 17% (+ 3 K), 12% (+ 4 K) and 9% (+ 5 K) of the
area. The morphology of permafrost gain/loss under these scenarios is
controlled by the surface lapse rate (SLR, i.e. air temperature
elevation gradient), which varies across the region below treeline.
Areas that are maritime exhibit SLRs characteristically similar above
and below treeline resulting in low probabilities of permafrost in
valley bottoms. When warming scenarios are applied, a loss front moves
to upper elevations (simple unidirectional spatial loss). Areas where
SLRs are gently negative below treeline and normal above treeline
exhibit a loss front moving up-mountain at different rates according to
two separate SLRs (complex unidirectional spatial loss). Areas that
display high continentally exhibit bidirectional spatial loss in which
the loss front moves up-mountain above treeline and down-mountain below
treeline. The parts of the region most affected by changes in MAAT (mean
annual air temperature) have SLRs close to 0 K km-1 and
extensive discontinuous permafrost, whereas the least sensitive in terms
of areal loss are sites above the treeline where permafrost presence is
strongly elevation dependent.
The specific surface area (SSA) of the snow constitutes a powerful parameter to quantify the exchange of matter and energy between the snow and the atmosphere. However, currently no snow physics model can simulate the SSA. Therefore, two different types of empirical parameterizations of the specific surface area (SSA) of snow are implemented into the existing one-dimensional snow physics model CROCUS. The parameterizations are either based on diagnostic equations relating the SSA to parameters like snow type and density or on prognostic equations that describe the change of SSA depending on snow age, snowpack temperature, and the temperature gradient within the snowpack. Simulations with the upgraded CROCUS model were performed for a subarctic snowpack, for which an extensive data set including SSA measurements is available at Fairbanks, Alaska for the winter season 2003/2004. While a reasonable agreement between simulated and observed SSA values is obtained using both parameterizations, the model tends to overestimate the SSA. This overestimation is more pronounced using the diagnostic equations compared to the results of the prognostic equations. Parts of the SSA deviations using both parameterizations can be attributed to differences between simulated and observed snow heights, densities, and temperatures. Therefore, further sensitivity studies regarding the thermal budget of the snowpack were performed. They revealed that reducing the thermal conductivity of the snow or increasing the turbulent fluxes at the snow surfaces leads to a slight improvement of the simulated thermal budget of the snowpack compared to the observations. However, their impact on further simulated parameters like snow height and SSA remains small. Including additional physical processes in the snow model may have the potential to advance the simulations of the thermal budget of the snowpack and, thus, the SSA simulations.
Volume loss of valley glaciers is now considered to be a significant contribution to sea level rise. Understanding and identifying the processes involved in accelerated mass loss are necessary to determine their impact on the global system. Here we present results from a series of model experiments with a higher-order thermomechanically coupled flowline model (Pattyn, 2002). Boundary conditions to the model are parameterizations of surface mass balance, geothermal heating, observed surface and 10 m ice depth temperatures. The time-dependent experiments aim at simulating the glacier retreat from its LIA expansion to present according to different scenarios and model parameters. Model output was validated against measurements of ice velocity, ice surface elevation and terminus position at different stages. Results demonstrate that a key factor in determining the glacier retreat history is the importance of internal accumulation (>50%) in the total mass balance. The persistence of a basal temperate zone characteristic for this polythermal glacier depends largely on its contribution. Accelerated glacier retreat since the early nineties seems directly related to the increase in ELA and the sudden reduction in AAR due to the fact that a large lower elevation cirque ? previously an important accumulation area ? became part of the ablation zone.
This study investigates the surface albedo of the sea ice areas adjacent
to the Antarctic Peninsula during the austral summer. Aircraft
measurements of the surface albedo, which were conducted in the sea ice
areas of the Weddell and Bellingshausen Seas show significant
differences between these two regions. The averaged surface albedo
varied between 0.13 and 0.81. The ice cover of the Bellingshausen Sea
consisted mainly of first year ice and the sea surface showed an
averaged sea ice albedo of αi = 0.64 ± 0.2
(± standard deviation). The mean sea ice albedo of the pack ice
area in the western Weddell Sea was αi = 0.75
± 0.05. In the southern Weddell Sea, where new, young sea ice
prevailed, a mean albedo value of αi = 0.38 ±
0.08 was observed. Relatively warm open water and thin, newly formed ice
had the lowest albedo values, whereas relatively cold and snow covered
pack ice had the highest albedo values. All sea ice areas consisted of a
mixture of a large range of different sea ice types. An investigation of
commonly used parameterizations of albedo as a function of surface
temperature in the Weddell and Bellingshausen Sea ice areas showed that
the albedo parameterizations do not work well for areas with new, young
The ice cap Vestfonna is located in northeastern Svalbard and forms one
of the largest ice bodies of the Eurasian Arctic. Its surface albedo
plays a key role in the understanding and modelling of its energy and
mass balance. The principle governing factors for albedo evolution, i.e.
precipitation and air temperature and therewith snow depth and melt
duration, were found to vary almost exclusively with terrain elevation
throughout the ice cap. Hence, surface albedo can be expected to develop
a comparable pattern. A new statistical model is presented that
estimates this mean altitudinal albedo profile of the ice cap on the
basis of a minimal set of meteorological variables on a monthly
resolution. Model calculations are based on a sigmoid function of the
artificial quantity rain-snow ratio and a linear function of cumulative
snowfall and cumulative positive degree days. Surface albedo fields of
the MODIS snow product MOD10A1 from the period March to October in the
years 2001-2008 serve as a basis for both calibration and
cross-validation of the model. The meteorological model input covers the
period September 2000 until October 2008 and is based on ERA-Interim
data of a grid point located close to the ice cap. The albedo model
shows a good performance. The root mean square error between observed
and modelled albedo values along the altitudinal profile is
0.057±0.028 (mean ± one standard deviation). The area
weighted mean even reduces to a value of 0.054. Distinctly higher
deviations (0.07-0.09) are only present throughout the very lowest and
uppermost parts of the ice cap that are either small in area or hardly
affected by surface melt. Thus, the new, minimal, statistical albedo
model presented in this study is found to reproduce the albedo evolution
on Vestfonna ice cap on a high level of accuracy and is thus suggested
to be fully suitable for further application in broader energy or
mass-balance studies of the ice cap.
Precise measurements of ice-flow velocities are necessary for a proper understanding of the dynamical response of glaciers to climate change. We use stand-alone single-frequency GPS receivers for this purpose. They are designed to operate unattended for multiple years, allowing uninterrupted measurements for long periods with a reasonable temporal resolution. We present the system and illustrate its functioning using data from 9 GPS receivers deployed on Nordenskiöldbreen, Svalbard, for the period 2006–2009. The accuracy of the receivers is 1.62 m based on the standard deviation in the average location of a stationary reference station (NBRef). Both the location of NBRef and the observed flow velocities agree within one standard deviation with DGPS measurements. Periodicity in the NBRef data is explained by the atmospheric influence on the GPS signal and by the GPS satellite configuration. A (weighed) running-average on the observed locations significantly reduces the standard deviation and removes high frequency periodicities, but also reduces the temporal resolution. Results show annual average velocities varying between 40 and 55 m/yr at stations on the central flow-line. On weekly to monthly time-scales we observe a peak in the flow velocities (60 to 90 m/yr) at the beginning of July related to increased melt-rates. No significant lag is observed between the timing of the maximum speed between different stations. This is likely due to the limited temporal resolution in combination with the relatively small distance (max. ±13 km) between the stations.
Compared to lowland (polar) regions, permafrost in high mountain areas
occurs in a large variety of surface and subsurface materials and
textures. This work presents an eight-year (2002-2010) data set of
borehole temperatures for five different (sub-) surface materials from a
high alpine permafrost area, Murtèl-Corvatsch, Switzerland. The
influence of the material on the thermal regime was investigated by
borehole temperature data, the temperature at the top of the permafrost
(TTOP-concept) and the apparent thermal diffusivity (ATD). The results
show that during the last eight years, material-specific temperature
changes were more significant than climate-induced temperature trends.
At coarse blocky, ice-rich sites, no changes in active layer depth were
observed, whereas the bedrock and the fine-grained sites appear to be
highly sensitive to changes in the microclimate. The results confirm
that the presence and growth of ice as well as a thermally driven air
circulation within the subsurface are the key factors for the occurence
and preservation of alpine permafrost.
Higher temperatures and changes in precipitation patterns have induced an acute decrease in Andean glaciers, thus leading to additional stress on water supply. To adapt to climate changes, local governments need information on the rate of glacier area and volume losses and on current ice thickness. Remote sensing analyses of Coropuna glacier (Peru) delineate an acute glaciated area decline between 1955 and 2008. We tested how volume changes can be estimated with remote sensing and GIS techniques using digital elevation models derived from both topographic maps and satellite images. Ice thickness was measured in 2004 using a Ground Penetrating Radar coupled with a Ground Positioning System during a field expedition. It provided profiles of ice thickness on different slopes, orientations and altitudes. These were used to model the current glacier volume using Geographical Information System and statistical multiple regression techniques. The results revealed a significant glacier volume loss; however the uncertainty is higher than the measured volume loss. We also provided an estimate of the remaining volume. The field study provided the scientific evidence needed by COPASA, a local Peruvian NGO, and GTZ, the German international cooperation agency, in order to alert local governments and communities and guide them in adopting new climate change adaptation policies.
We describe a method to calculate regional snow line elevations and
annual equilibrium line altitudes (ELAs) from daily MODIS imagery
(MOD02QKM) on large glaciers and icefields in western North America. An
automated cluster analysis of the cloud-masked visible and near-infrared
bands at 250 m resolution is used to delineate glacier facies (snow and
ice) for ten glacierized regions between 2000-2011. For each region and
season, the maximum observed value of the 20th percentile of
snow-covered pixels (ZS(20)) is used to define a regional ELA
proxy (ELAest). Our results indicate significant increases in
the regional ELA proxy at two continental sites (Peyto Glacier and
Gulkana Glacier) over the period of observation, though no statistically
significant trends are identified at other sites. To evaluate the
utility of regional ELA proxies derived from MOD02QKM imagery, we
compare standard geodetic estimates of glacier mass change with
estimates derived from historical mass balance gradients and
observations of ZS(20) at three large icefields. Our approach
yields estimates of mass change that more negative than traditional
geodetic approaches, though MODIS-derived estimates are within the
margins of error at all three sites. Both estimates of glacier mass
change corroborate the continued mass loss of glaciers in western North
America. Between 2000 and 2009, the geodetic change approach yields mean
annual rates of surface elevation change for the Columbia, Lillooet, and
Sittakanay icefields of -0.29 ± 0.05, -0.26 ± 0.05, and
-0.63 ± 0.17 m a-1, respectively. This study provides
a new technique for glacier facies detection at daily timescales, and
contributes to the development of regional estimates of glacier mass
change, both of which are critical for studies of glacier contributions
to streamflow and global sea level rise.
New analytical solutions describing the effects of small-amplitude perturbations in boundary data on flow in the shallow-ice-stream approximation are presented. These solutions are valid for a non-linear Weertman-type sliding law and for Newtonian ice rheology. Comparison is made with corresponding solutions of the shallow-ice-sheet approximation, and with solutions of the full Stokes equations. The shallow-ice-stream approximation is commonly used to describe large-scale ice stream flow over a weak bed, while the shallow-ice-sheet approximation forms the basis of most current large-scale ice sheet models. It is found that the shallow-ice-stream approximation overestimates the effects of bed topography perturbations on surface profile for wavelengths less than about 5 to 10 ice thicknesses, the exact number depending on values of surface slope and slip ratio. For high slip ratios, the shallow-ice-stream approximation gives a very simple description of the relationship between bed and surface topography, with the corresponding transfer amplitudes being close to unity for any given wavelength. The shallow-ice-stream estimates for the timescales that govern the transient response of ice streams to external perturbations are considerably more accurate than those based on the shallow-ice-sheet approximation. In particular, in contrast to the shallow-ice-sheet approximation, the shallow-ice-stream approximation correctly reproduces the short-wavelength limit of the kinematic phase speed given by solving a linearised version of the full Stokes system. In accordance with the full Stokes solutions, the shallow-ice-sheet approximation predicts surface fields to react weakly to spatial variations in basal slipperiness with wavelengths less than about 10 to 20 ice thicknesses.
Antarctic surface snow has been studied by means of continuous
measurements and observations over a period of 3 yr at Dome C. Snow
observations include solid deposits in form of precipitation, diamond
dust, or hoar, snow temperatures at several depths, records of
deposition and erosion on the surface, and snow profiles. Together with
meteorological data from automatic weather stations, this forms a unique
dataset of snow conditions on the Antarctic Plateau. Large differences
in snow amounts and density exist between solid deposits measured 1 m
above the surface and deposition at the surface. We used the snow-cover
model SNOWPACK to simulate the snow-cover evolution for different
deposition parameterizations. The main adaptation of the model described
here is a new event-driven deposition scheme. The scheme assumes that
snow is added to the snow cover permanently only during periods of
strong winds. This assumption followed from the comparison between
observations of solid deposits and daily records of changes in snow
height: solid deposits could be observed on tables 1 m above the surface
on 94 out of 235 days (40%) while deposition at the surface occurred on
59 days (25%) during the same period, but both happened concurrently on
33 days (14%) only. This confirms that precipitation is not necessarily
the driving force behind non-temporary snow height changes. A comparison
of simulated snow height to stake farm measurements over 3 yr showed
that we underestimate the total accumulation by at least 33%, when the
total snow deposition is constrained by the measurements of solid
deposits on tables 1 m above the surface. During shorter time periods,
however, we may miss over 50% of the deposited mass. This suggests that
the solid deposits measured above the surface and used to drive the
model, even though comparable to ECMWF forecasts in its total magnitude,
should be seen as a lower boundary. As a result of the new deposition
mechanism, we found a good agreement between model results and
measurements of snow temperatures and recorded snow profiles. In spite
of the underestimated deposition, the results thus suggest that we can
obtain quite realistic simulations of the Antarctic snow cover by the
introduction of event-driven snow deposition.
Recent observations have shown that the periphery of the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) is thinning rapidly and that this thinning is greatest around marine-terminating outlet glaciers. Several theories have been proposed which provide a link between climate and ice thinning. We present surface elevation change ( dh/dt ) data from NASA's Program for Arctic Regional Climate Assessment (PARCA) laser altimetry surveys for fourteen and eleven of the largest outlet glaciers in Southern Greenland from 1993 to 1998 and 1998 to 2006 respectively to test the applicability of these theories to the GrIS.
Initially, outlet glacier dh/dt data are compared with data from concurrent surveys over inland ice (slow flowing ice that is not obviously draining into an outlet glacier) to confirm the effect of ice flow on surface thinning rates. Land-terminating and marine-terminating outlet glacier dh/dt data are then compared from 1993 to 1998 and from 1998 to 2006. Finally, ablation anomalies (the difference between the "normal" ablation rate from 1970 to 2000 and the ablation rate in the time period of interest) calculated with a positive degree day model are compared to both marine-terminating and land-terminating outlet glacier dh/dt data.
Our results support earlier conclusions that certain marine-terminating outlet glaciers have thinned much more than land-terminating outlet glaciers during both time periods. Furthermore we show that these differences are not limited to the largest, fastest-flowing outlet glaciers - almost all marine-terminating outlet glaciers are thinning more than land-terminating outlet glaciers. There was a four fold increase in mean marine-terminating outlet glacier thinning rates below 1000 m elevation between the periods 1993 to 1998 and 1998 to 2006, while thinning rates of land-terminating outlet glaciers remained statistically unchanged. This suggests that a change in a controlling mechanism specific to the thinning rates of marine-terminating outlet glaciers occurred in the late 1990s and that this change did not affect thinning rates of land-terminating outlet glaciers.
Thinning rates of land-terminating outlet glaciers are statistically the same as ablation anomalies, while thinning rates of marine-terminating outlet glaciers are not. Thinning of land-terminating outlet glaciers therefore seems to be a response to changes in local mass balance (principally increases in air temperature) while thinning of marine-terminating outlet glaciers is principally controlled by ice dynamics. The mechanism by which this dynamic thinning occurs is still not clear although its association with marine-terminating outlet glaciers suggests perturbations at marine termini (calving) as the likely cause.
In recent decades, seven out of twelve ice shelves around the Antarctic Peninsula (AP) have either retreated significantly or have been almost entirely lost. At least some of these retreats have been shown to be unusual within the context of the Holocene and have been widely attributed to recent atmospheric and oceanic changes. To date, measurements of the area of ice shelves on the AP have either been approximated, or calculated for individual shelves over dissimilar time intervals. Here we present a new dataset containing up-to-date and consistent area calculations for each of the twelve ice shelves on the AP over the past five decades. The results reveal an overall reduction in total ice-shelf area by over 28 000 km2 since the beginning of the period. Individual ice shelves show different rates of retreat, ranging from slow but progressive retreat to abrupt collapse. We discuss the pertinent features of each ice shelf and also broad spatial and temporal patterns in the timing and rate of retreat. We believe that an understanding of this diversity and what it implies about the baseline dynamics and control will provide the best foundation for developing a reliable real predictive skill.
The boundary of grounded ice and the location of ice transitioning to a freely floating state are mapped at 15-m resolution around the entire continent of Antarctica. These data products are produced by participants of the International Polar Year project ASAID using customized software combining Landsat-7 imagery and ICESat laser altimetry. The grounded ice boundary is 53 610 km long; 74% of it abuts to floating ice shelves or outlet glaciers, 19% is adjacent to open or sea-ice covered ocean, and 7% of the boundary are land terminations with bare rock. Elevations along each line are selected from 6 candidate digital elevation models: two created from the input ICESat laser altimetry and Landsat data, two from stereo satellite imagery, and two from compilations of primarily radar altimetry. Elevation selection and an assignment of confidence in the elevation value are based on agreement with ICESat elevation values and shape of the surface inferred from the Landsat imagery. Elevations along the freely-floating boundary (called the hydrostatic line) are converted to ice thicknesses by applying a firn-correction factor and a flotation criterion. The relationship between the seaward offset of the hydrostatic line from the grounding line only weakly matches a prediction based on beam theory. Airborne data are used to validate the technique of grounding line mapping, elevation selection and ice thickness derivation. The mapped products along with the customized software to generate them and a variety of intermediate products are available from the National Snow and Ice Data Center.
Using hardware developed for the ARA (Askaryan Radio Array) particle
astrophysics experiment, we herein report on the amplitude and temporal
characteristics of polarized surface radar echo data collected in South
Polar ice using radio sounding equipment with 0.5-ns echo-time sampling.
We observe strong echoes at 6, 9.6, 13.9, 17, and 19 μs following
vertical pulse emission from the surface, corresponding to reflectors in
the upper half of the ice sheet. The synchronicity of those echoes for
all broadcast azimuthal polarizations affirms the lack of observable
birefringence over the upper half of the ice sheet. Of the five
strongest echoes, three exhibit an evident amplitude correlation with
the local surface ice flow direction, qualitatively consistent with
measurements in East Antarctica. Combined with other radio echo sounding
data, we conclude that observed birefringent asymmetries at South Pole
are generated entirely in the lower half of the ice sheet. By contrast,
birefringent asymmetries are observed at shallow depths in East