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Estimating unaccounted, late season snow accumulation on Storglaciären: Implications for glacier mass balance programmes
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2636-6126
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The study of glacier surface mass balance provides key data and insights into how the cryosphere interacts with climate and hydrology. The glacier monitoring programme of the Tarfala Research Station has performed field surveys of mass balance over many years and on several glaciers in the Swedish subarctic region. In 2012 an error source revealed itself due to unusual weather and extended field work. Late season accumulation, occurring after the accumulation season’s final survey added unaccounted mass to the surface mass balance. This mass, whilst not affecting the net mass balance reduces the accuracy of both hydrological response models and climate response models. By using a degree day model to calculate expected melt and comparing this with estimates from field data the unaccounted accumulation can be estimated. For 2012, the measured ablation was 0.68 m w.e. while the modelled results provided 1.37 m w.e., a difference of 0.83 m w.e. attributed to unaccounted snow fall causing unrecorded melt. The method of estimating accumulation from the mismatch in estimations of melt is shown here to provide a reliable and functional estimate of the error which can be used improve the monitoring programme’s estimates of mass balance components.

Keywords [en]
Glaciology, Mass Balance, Storglaciären
National Category
Physical Geography
Research subject
Physical Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-154947OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-154947DiVA, id: diva2:1197792
Available from: 2018-04-14 Created: 2018-04-14 Last updated: 2018-04-17Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Studies in Glacier Mass Balance: Measurement and its errors
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Studies in Glacier Mass Balance: Measurement and its errors
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The study of the surface mass balance of valley glaciers has a long history but one that is dogged by uncertainty and errors, and uncertainty about those errors. These problems are acknowledged by the glaciological community and have been examined and formalised in several publications. The latest of these stems from a workshop organised by the World Glacier Monitoring Service, the results of which are presented in the first paper of this thesis. The paper examines two common methods and some of their associated errors, with the aim of unifying them and providing more robust data sets. New methodologies, such as ground penetrating radar (GPR), are used in the second paper herein to provide richer and alternative data sources for approaching measurement problems related to snow depth and, to some degree, snow density. The third paper is concerned with both technical survey issues and glaciological definitions when surveys of glacier surfaces are performed for use in mass balance calculation. Many of these issues are common to remote sensing methods and ground based surveys but the paper attempts to make this commonality more explicit. Whilst the first three papers concern themselves with the act of measurement and calculation the fourth paper considers errors brought about by logistical constraints restricting the timing of surveys. Such errors are technically avoidable to a large degree but inevitable in practice. In the case presented here the error is one of unobserved accumulation, falling late in the season, after the last survey. By modelling expected ablation from minimal data, such as temperature, and comparing this with measured mass balance an estimate of unobserved accumulation is made.

Also contained in this work is an assessment of glacier front surveys, specifically those performed by the Tarfala Research Station. Such surveys are assumed to act as a monitor of glacier response to climate change and are assumed to be a large scale proxy of mass balance but the resolution of the response as well as the resolution of survey methods indicates that the frequency of such surveys should be reduced and that remote sensing methods may be more effective.

Common to all glaciological field surveys is the relative sparsity of data rendering error analysis and many statistical methods ineffective but new technologies such as Lidar, Global Navigation Satellite System, GPR and remote sensing indicate a way forward and the potential for future work to deliver detailed and reliable data.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Physical Geography, Stockholm University, 2018
Series
Dissertations from the Department of Physical Geography, ISSN 1653-7211 ; 72
Keywords
Glaciology, Mass Balance, Measurement Errors
National Category
Physical Geography
Research subject
Physical Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-155233 (URN)978-91-7797-205-1 (ISBN)978-91-7797-206-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-06-11, Ahlmannsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 4: Manuscript.

Available from: 2018-05-17 Created: 2018-04-16 Last updated: 2018-04-27Bibliographically approved

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