University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Air Temperature Distribution and Energy-balance Modelling of a Debris-covered Glacier

Shaw, T.E., Brock, B.W., Fyffe, Catriona, Pellicciotti, F., Rutter, N. and Diotri, F. (2016) Air Temperature Distribution and Energy-balance Modelling of a Debris-covered Glacier. Journal of Glaciology, 62 (231). pp. 185-198. ISSN Print 0022-1430 Online 1727-5652

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Near-surface air temperature is an important determinant of the surface energy balance of glaciers and is often represented by a constant linear temperature gradients (TGs) in models. Spatiotemporal variability in 2 m air temperature was measured across the debris-covered Miage Glacier, Italy, over an 89 d period during the 2014 ablation season using a network of 19 stations. Air temperature was found to be strongly dependent upon elevation for most stations, even under varying meteorological conditions and at different times of day, and its spatial variability was well explained by a locally derived mean linear TG (MG–TG) of −0.0088°C m−1. However, local temperature depressions occurred over areas of very thin or patchy debris cover. The MG–TG, together with other air TGs, extrapolated from both on- and off-glacier sites, were applied in a distributed energy-balance model. Compared with piecewise air temperature extrapolation from all on-glacier stations, modelled ablation, using the MG–TG, increased by <1%, increasing to >4% using the environmental ‘lapse rate’. Ice melt under thick debris was relatively insensitive to air temperature, while the effects of different temperature extrapolation methods were strongest at high elevation sites of thin and patchy debris cover.

Item Type: Article
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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: debris-covered glacier, air temperature, energy balance, surface melt
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GB Physical geography
Divisions: College of Health, Life and Environmental Sciences > School of Science and the Environment
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Copyright Info: Open Access journal article
Depositing User: Catriona Fyffe
Date Deposited: 15 Aug 2016 06:38
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2020 17:12

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