Articles | Volume 10, issue 2
Research article
08 Mar 2016
Research article |  | 08 Mar 2016

Reanalysis of long-term series of glaciological and geodetic mass balance for 10 Norwegian glaciers

Liss M. Andreassen, Hallgeir Elvehøy, Bjarne Kjøllmoen, and Rune V. Engeset

Abstract. Glaciological and geodetic methods provide independent observations of glacier mass balance. The glaciological method measures the surface mass balance, on a seasonal or annual basis, whereas the geodetic method measures surface, internal, and basal mass balances, over a period of years or decades. In this paper, we reanalyse the 10 glaciers with long-term mass-balance series in Norway. The reanalysis includes (i) homogenisation of both glaciological and geodetic observation series, (ii) uncertainty assessment, (iii) estimates of generic differences including estimates of internal and basal melt, (iv) validation, and, if needed, (v) calibration of mass-balance series. This study comprises an extensive set of data (484 mass-balance years, 34 geodetic surveys, and large volumes of supporting data, such as metadata and field notes).

In total, 21 periods of data were compared and the results show discrepancies between the glaciological and geodetic methods for some glaciers, which are attributed in part to internal and basal ablation and in part to inhomogeneity in the data processing. Deviations were smaller than 0.2 m w.e. a−1 for 12 out of 21 periods. Calibration was applied to 7 out of 21 periods, as the deviations were larger than the uncertainty.

The reanalysed glaciological series shows a more consistent signal of glacier change over the period of observations than previously reported: six glaciers had a significant mass loss (14–22 m w.e.) and four glaciers were nearly in balance. All glaciers have lost mass after the year 2000.

More research is needed on the sources of uncertainty to reduce uncertainties and adjust the observation programmes accordingly. The study confirms the value of carrying out independent high-quality geodetic surveys to check and correct field observations.

Short summary
This study provides homogenised and partly calibrated data series of glaciological and geodetic mass balance for the 10 Norwegian glaciers with long-term observations. In total, 21 periods of data were compared. Uncertainties were quantified for relevant sources of errors, both in the glaciological and geodetic series. The reanalysis processes altered seasonal, annual, and cumulative as well as ELA and AAR values for many of the years for the 10 glaciers presented.