Mass-balance parameters derived from a synthetic network of mass-balance glaciers
Glacier mass-balance parameters such as the equilibrium-line altitude (ELA) play an important role when working with large glacier samples. While the number of observational mass-balance series to derive such parameters is limited, more and more modeled data are becoming available. Here we explore the possibilities of analyzing such 'synthetic' mass-balance data with respect to mass-balance parameters. A simplified energy-balance model is driven by bias-corrected regional climate model output to model mass-balance distributions for 94 glaciers in the Swiss Alps over 15 years. The modeling results in realistic interannual variability and mean cumulative mass balance. Subsequently model output is analyzed with respect to 18 topographic and mass-balance parameters and a correlation analysis is performed. Well-known correlations such as for ELA and median elevation are confirmed from the synthetic data. Furthermore, previously unreported parameter relationships are found such as a correlation of the balance rate at the tongue with the accumulation-area ratio (AAR) and of the glacier elevation range with the AAR. Analyzing modeled data complements in situ observations and highlights their importance: the small number of accurate mass-balance observations available for validation is a major challenge for the presented approach.
Authors: Machguth, Horst, Haeberli, Wilfried, Paul, Frank