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Statistical modelling of the surface mass balance variability of the Morteratsch glacier, Switzerland: strong control of early melting season meteorological conditions

Tijdschriftbijdrage - Tijdschriftartikel

In this study we analyse a 15-year long time series of surface mass-balance (SMB) measurements performed between 2001 and 2016 in the ablation zone of the Morteratsch glacier complex (Engadine, Switzerland). For a better understanding of the SMB variability and its causes, multiple linear regressions analyses are performed with temperature and precipitation series from nearby meteorological stations. Up to 85% of the observed SMB variance can be explained by the mean May–June–July temperature and the total precipitation from October to March. A new method is presented where the contribution of each month’s individual temperature and precipitation to the SMB can be examined in a total sample of 224 (16.8 million) combinations. More than 90% of the observed SMB can be explained with particular combinations, in which the May–June–July temperature is the most recurrent, followed by October temperature. The role of precipitation is less pronounced, but autumn, winter and spring precipitation are always more important than summer precipitation. Our results indicate that the length of the ice ablation season is of larger importance than its intensity to explain year-toyear variations. The widely used June–July–August temperature index may not always be the best option to describe SMB variability through statistical correlation.
Tijdschrift: Journal of Glaciology
ISSN: 0022-1430
Issue: 244
Volume: 64
Pagina's: 275-288
Aantal pagina's: 14
Jaar van publicatie:2018
Trefwoorden:energy balance, glacier cover, glacier mass balance, glacier meteorology, glacier monitoring, Geowetenschappen en technologie