Articles | Volume 15, issue 7
Research article 09 Jul 2021
Research article | 09 Jul 2021
Firn changes at Colle Gnifetti revealed with a high-resolution process-based physical model approach
Enrico Mattea et al.
No articles found.
Martin Hoelzle, Christian Hauck, Tamara Mathys, Jeannette Noetzli, Cécile Pellet, and Martin Scherler
Earth Syst. Sci. Data Discuss.,
Preprint under review for ESSDShort summary
With ongoing climate change, it is crucial to understand the interactions of the individual heat fluxes at the surface and within the subsurface layers as well as their relative impacts on permafrost thermal regime. A unique set of high-altitude meteorological measurements has been analysed to determine the energy balance at three mountain permafrost sites in the Swiss Alps, where data is being collected since the late 1990s in collaboration with the Swiss Permafrost Monitoring Network (PERMOS).
Christian Zdanowicz, Jean-Charles Gallet, Mats P. Björkman, Catherine Larose, Thomas Schuler, Bartłomiej Luks, Krystyna Koziol, Andrea Spolaor, Elena Barbaro, Tõnu Martma, Ward van Pelt, Ulla Wideqvist, and Johan Ström
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 21, 3035–3057,Short summary
Black carbon (BC) aerosols are soot-like particles which, when transported to the Arctic, darken snow surfaces, thus indirectly affecting climate. Information on BC in Arctic snow is needed to measure their impact and monitor the efficacy of pollution-reduction policies. This paper presents a large new set of BC measurements in snow in Svalbard collected between 2007 and 2018. It describes how BC in snow varies across the archipelago and explores some factors controlling these variations.
Ethan Welty, Michael Zemp, Francisco Navarro, Matthias Huss, Johannes J. Fürst, Isabelle Gärtner-Roer, Johannes Landmann, Horst Machguth, Kathrin Naegeli, Liss M. Andreassen, Daniel Farinotti, Huilin Li, and GlaThiDa Contributors
Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 12, 3039–3055,Short summary
Knowing the thickness of glacier ice is critical for predicting the rate of glacier loss and the myriad downstream impacts. To facilitate forecasts of future change, we have added 3 million measurements to our worldwide database of glacier thickness: 14 % of global glacier area is now within 1 km of a thickness measurement (up from 6 %). To make it easier to update and monitor the quality of our database, we have used automated tools to check and track changes to the data over time.
Baptiste Vandecrux, Ruth Mottram, Peter L. Langen, Robert S. Fausto, Martin Olesen, C. Max Stevens, Vincent Verjans, Amber Leeson, Stefan Ligtenberg, Peter Kuipers Munneke, Sergey Marchenko, Ward van Pelt, Colin R. Meyer, Sebastian B. Simonsen, Achim Heilig, Samira Samimi, Shawn Marshall, Horst Machguth, Michael MacFerrin, Masashi Niwano, Olivia Miller, Clifford I. Voss, and Jason E. Box
The Cryosphere, 14, 3785–3810,Short summary
In the vast interior of the Greenland ice sheet, snow accumulates into a thick and porous layer called firn. Each summer, the firn retains part of the meltwater generated at the surface and buffers sea-level rise. In this study, we compare nine firn models traditionally used to quantify this retention at four sites and evaluate their performance against a set of in situ observations. We highlight limitations of certain model designs and give perspectives for future model development.
Ankit Pramanik, Jack Kohler, Katrin Lindbäck, Penelope How, Ward Van Pelt, Glen Liston, and Thomas V. Schuler
The Cryosphere Discuss.,
Revised manuscript not acceptedShort summary
Freshwater discharge from tidewater glaciers influences fjord circulation and fjord ecosystem. Glacier hydrology plays crucial role in transporting water underneath glacier ice. We investigated hydrology beneath the tidewater glaciers of Kongsfjord basin in Northwest Svalbard and found that subglacial water flow differs substantially from surface flow of glacier ice. Furthermore, we derived freshwater discharge time-series from all the glaciers to the fjord.
Ward van Pelt, Veijo Pohjola, Rickard Pettersson, Sergey Marchenko, Jack Kohler, Bartłomiej Luks, Jon Ove Hagen, Thomas V. Schuler, Thorben Dunse, Brice Noël, and Carleen Reijmer
The Cryosphere, 13, 2259–2280,Short summary
The climate in Svalbard is undergoing amplified change compared to the global mean, which has a strong impact on the climatic mass balance of glaciers and the state of seasonal snow in land areas. In this study we analyze a coupled energy balance–subsurface model dataset, which provides detailed information on distributed climatic mass balance, snow conditions, and runoff across Svalbard between 1957 and 2018.
Robert Kenner, Jeannette Noetzli, Martin Hoelzle, Hugo Raetzo, and Marcia Phillips
The Cryosphere, 13, 1925–1941,Short summary
A new permafrost mapping method distinguishes between ice-poor and ice-rich permafrost. The approach was tested for the entire Swiss Alps and highlights the dominating influence of the factors elevation and solar radiation on the distribution of ice-poor permafrost. Our method enabled the indication of mean annual ground temperatures and the cartographic representation of permafrost-free belts, which are bounded above by ice-poor permafrost and below by permafrost-containing excess ice.
Sergey Marchenko, Gong Cheng, Per Lötstedt, Veijo Pohjola, Rickard Pettersson, Ward van Pelt, and Carleen Reijmer
The Cryosphere, 13, 1843–1859,Short summary
Thermal conductivity (k) of firn at Lomonosovfonna, Svalbard, is estimated using measured temperature evolution and density. The optimized k values (0.2–1.6 W (m K)−1) increase downwards and over time and are most sensitive to systematic errors in measured temperature values and their depths, particularly in the lower part of the profile. Compared to the density-based parameterizations, derived k values are consistently larger, suggesting a faster conductive heat exchange in firn.
Baptiste Vandecrux, Michael MacFerrin, Horst Machguth, William T. Colgan, Dirk van As, Achim Heilig, C. Max Stevens, Charalampos Charalampidis, Robert S. Fausto, Elizabeth M. Morris, Ellen Mosley-Thompson, Lora Koenig, Lynn N. Montgomery, Clément Miège, Sebastian B. Simonsen, Thomas Ingeman-Nielsen, and Jason E. Box
The Cryosphere, 13, 845–859,Short summary
The perennial snow, or firn, on the Greenland ice sheet each summer stores part of the meltwater formed at the surface, buffering the ice sheet’s contribution to sea level. We gathered observations of firn air content, indicative of the space available in the firn to retain meltwater, and find that this air content remained stable in cold regions of the firn over the last 65 years but recently decreased significantly in western Greenland.
Kathrin Naegeli, Matthias Huss, and Martin Hoelzle
The Cryosphere, 13, 397–412,Short summary
The paper investigates the temporal changes of bare-ice glacier surface albedo in the Swiss Alps between 1999 and 2016 from a regional to local scale using satellite data. Significant negative trends were found in the lowermost elevations and margins of the ablation zones. Although significant changes of glacier ice albedo are only present over a limited area, we emphasize that albedo feedback will considerably enhance the rate of glacier mass loss in the Swiss Alps in the near future.
Denis Cohen, Fabien Gillet-Chaulet, Wilfried Haeberli, Horst Machguth, and Urs H. Fischer
The Cryosphere, 12, 2515–2544,Short summary
As part of an integrative study about the safety of repositories for radioactive waste under ice age conditions in Switzerland, we modeled the flow of ice of the Rhine glacier at the Last Glacial Maximum to determine conditions at the ice–bed interface. Results indicate that portions of the ice lobes were at the melting temperature and ice was sliding, two conditions necessary for erosion by glacier. Conditions at the bed of the ice lobes were affected by climate and also by topography.
Martina Barandun, Matthias Huss, Ryskul Usubaliev, Erlan Azisov, Etienne Berthier, Andreas Kääb, Tobias Bolch, and Martin Hoelzle
The Cryosphere, 12, 1899–1919,Short summary
In this study, we used three independent methods (in situ measurements, comparison of digital elevation models and modelling) to reconstruct the mass change from 2000 to 2016 for three glaciers in the Tien Shan and Pamir. Snow lines observed on remote sensing images were used to improve conventional modelling by constraining a mass balance model. As a result, glacier mass changes for unmeasured years and glaciers can be better assessed. Substantial mass loss was confirmed for the three glaciers.
Solveig H. Winsvold, Andreas Kääb, Christopher Nuth, Liss M. Andreassen, Ward J. J. van Pelt, and Thomas Schellenberger
The Cryosphere, 12, 867–890,
Dorothée Vallot, Jan Åström, Thomas Zwinger, Rickard Pettersson, Alistair Everett, Douglas I. Benn, Adrian Luckman, Ward J. J. van Pelt, Faezeh Nick, and Jack Kohler
The Cryosphere, 12, 609–625,Short summary
This paper presents a new perspective on the role of ice dynamics and ocean interaction in glacier calving processes applied to Kronebreen, a tidewater glacier in Svalbard. A global modelling approach includes ice flow modelling, undercutting estimation by a combination of glacier energy balance and plume modelling as well as calving by a discrete particle model. We show that modelling undercutting is necessary and calving is influenced by basal friction velocity and geometry.
Penelope How, Douglas I. Benn, Nicholas R. J. Hulton, Bryn Hubbard, Adrian Luckman, Heïdi Sevestre, Ward J. J. van Pelt, Katrin Lindbäck, Jack Kohler, and Wim Boot
The Cryosphere, 11, 2691–2710,Short summary
This study provides valuable insight into subglacial hydrology and dynamics at tidewater glaciers, which remains a poorly understood area of glaciology. It is a unique study because of the wealth of information provided by simultaneous observations of glacier hydrology at Kronebreen, a tidewater glacier in Svalbard. All these elements build a strong conceptual picture of the glacier's hydrological regime over the 2014 melt season.
Vassiliy Kapitsa, Maria Shahgedanova, Horst Machguth, Igor Severskiy, and Akhmetkal Medeu
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 17, 1837–1856,Short summary
Changes in lake count and area in the region of Djungarskiy Alatau were assessed, showing that both increased by 6 % in 2002–2014 due to glacier melt. A total of 50 lakes were identified as potentially dangerous. GlabTop2 was used to simulate location and size of overdeepenings in the subglacier beds which present sites where lakes can develop in the future. The model predicted 67 % of lakes would form in the area de-glacierized in 2002–2014, correctly proving a useful tool in hazard management.
Martin Hoelzle, Erlan Azisov, Martina Barandun, Matthias Huss, Daniel Farinotti, Abror Gafurov, Wilfried Hagg, Ruslan Kenzhebaev, Marlene Kronenberg, Horst Machguth, Alexandr Merkushkin, Bolot Moldobekov, Maxim Petrov, Tomas Saks, Nadine Salzmann, Tilo Schöne, Yuri Tarasov, Ryskul Usubaliev, Sergiy Vorogushyn, Andrey Yakovlev, and Michael Zemp
Geosci. Instrum. Method. Data Syst., 6, 397–418,
Xavier Fettweis, Jason E. Box, Cécile Agosta, Charles Amory, Christoph Kittel, Charlotte Lang, Dirk van As, Horst Machguth, and Hubert Gallée
The Cryosphere, 11, 1015–1033,Short summary
This paper shows that the surface melt increase over the Greenland ice sheet since the end of the 1990s has been unprecedented, with respect to the last 120 years, using a regional climate model. These simulations also suggest an increase of the snowfall accumulation through the last century before a surface mass decrease in the 2000s. Such a mass gain could have impacted the ice sheet's dynamic stability and could explain the recent observed increase of the glaciers' velocity.
Daniel Farinotti, Douglas J. Brinkerhoff, Garry K. C. Clarke, Johannes J. Fürst, Holger Frey, Prateek Gantayat, Fabien Gillet-Chaulet, Claire Girard, Matthias Huss, Paul W. Leclercq, Andreas Linsbauer, Horst Machguth, Carlos Martin, Fabien Maussion, Mathieu Morlighem, Cyrille Mosbeux, Ankur Pandit, Andrea Portmann, Antoine Rabatel, RAAJ Ramsankaran, Thomas J. Reerink, Olivier Sanchez, Peter A. Stentoft, Sangita Singh Kumari, Ward J. J. van Pelt, Brian Anderson, Toby Benham, Daniel Binder, Julian A. Dowdeswell, Andrea Fischer, Kay Helfricht, Stanislav Kutuzov, Ivan Lavrentiev, Robert McNabb, G. Hilmar Gudmundsson, Huilin Li, and Liss M. Andreassen
The Cryosphere, 11, 949–970,Short summary
ITMIX – the Ice Thickness Models Intercomparison eXperiment – was the first coordinated performance assessment for models inferring glacier ice thickness from surface characteristics. Considering 17 different models and 21 different test cases, we show that although solutions of individual models can differ considerably, an ensemble average can yield uncertainties in the order of 10 ± 24 % the mean ice thickness. Ways forward for improving such estimates are sketched.
Anna Haberkorn, Nander Wever, Martin Hoelzle, Marcia Phillips, Robert Kenner, Mathias Bavay, and Michael Lehning
The Cryosphere, 11, 585–607,Short summary
The effects of permafrost degradation on rock slope stability in the Alps affect people and infrastructure. Modelling the evolution of permafrost is therefore of great importance. However, the snow cover has generally not been taken into account in model studies of steep, rugged rock walls. Thus, we present a distributed model study on the influence of the snow cover on rock temperatures. The promising results are discussed against detailed rock temperature measurements and snow depth data.
Antoine Marmy, Jan Rajczak, Reynald Delaloye, Christin Hilbich, Martin Hoelzle, Sven Kotlarski, Christophe Lambiel, Jeannette Noetzli, Marcia Phillips, Nadine Salzmann, Benno Staub, and Christian Hauck
The Cryosphere, 10, 2693–2719,Short summary
This paper presents a new semi-automated method to calibrate the 1-D soil model COUP. It is the first time (as far as we know) that this approach is developed for mountain permafrost. It is applied at six test sites in the Swiss Alps. In a second step, the calibrated model is used for RCM-based simulations with specific downscaling of RCM data to the borehole scale. We show projections of the permafrost evolution at the six sites until the end of the century and according to the A1B scenario.
Brice Noël, Willem Jan van de Berg, Horst Machguth, Stef Lhermitte, Ian Howat, Xavier Fettweis, and Michiel R. van den Broeke
The Cryosphere, 10, 2361–2377,Short summary
We present a 1 km resolution data set (1958–2015) of daily Greenland ice sheet surface mass balance (SMB), statistically downscaled from the data of RACMO2.3 at 11 km using elevation dependence, precipitation and bare ice albedo corrections. The data set resolves Greenland narrow ablation zones and local outlet glaciers, and shows more realistic SMB patterns, owing to enhanced runoff at the ice sheet margins. An evaluation of the product against SMB measurements shows improved agreement.
Mauro Fischer, Matthias Huss, Mario Kummert, and Martin Hoelzle
The Cryosphere, 10, 1279–1295,Short summary
This study provides the first thorough validation of geodetic glacier mass changes derived from close-range high-resolution remote sensing techniques, and highlights the potential of terrestrial laser scanning for repeated mass balance monitoring of very small alpine glaciers. The presented methodology is promising, as laborious and potentially dangerous in situ measurements as well as the spatial inter- and extrapolation of point measurements over the entire glacier can be circumvented.
Carmen P. Vega, Veijo A. Pohjola, Emilie Beaudon, Björn Claremar, Ward J. J. van Pelt, Rickard Pettersson, Elisabeth Isaksson, Tõnu Martma, Margit Schwikowski, and Carl E. Bøggild
The Cryosphere, 10, 961–976,Short summary
To quantify post-depositional relocation of major ions by meltwater in snow and firn at Lomonosovfonna, Svalbard, consecutive ice cores drilled at this site were used to construct a synthetic core. The relocation length of most of the ions was on the order of 1 m between 2007 and 2010. Considering the ionic relocation lengths and annual melt percentages, we estimate that the atmospheric ionic signal remains preserved in recently drilled Lomonosovfonna ice cores at an annual or bi-annual resolution.
P. Greenwood, M. Hoelzle, and N. J. Kuhn
Geogr. Helv., 70, 311–313,Short summary
Editorial introducing the special issue of Geographica Helvetica: Mapping, Measuring and Modeling in Geomorphology.
L. Sold, M. Huss, A. Eichler, M. Schwikowski, and M. Hoelzle
The Cryosphere, 9, 1075–1087,Short summary
This study presents a method for estimating annual accumulation rates on a temperate Alpine glacier based on the interpretation of internal reflection horizons in helicopter-borne ground-penetrating radar (GPR) data. In combination with a simple model for firn densification and refreezing of meltwater, GPR can be used not only to complement existing mass balance monitoring programmes but also to retrospectively extend newly initiated time series.
M. Fischer, M. Huss, and M. Hoelzle
The Cryosphere, 9, 525–540,
M. Schaefer, H. Machguth, M. Falvey, G. Casassa, and E. Rignot
The Cryosphere, 9, 25–35,Short summary
We use a meteorological-glaciological multi-model approach to quantify, for the first time, melt and accumulation of snow on the Southern Patagonia Icefield (SPI). We were able to reproduce the high measured accumulation of snow of up to 15.4 m water equivalent per year as well as the high measured ablation of up to 11 m water equivalent per year. Mass losses of the SPI due to calving of icebergs strongly increased from 1975-2000 to 2000-2011 and were higher than losses due to surface melt.
H. Frey, H. Machguth, M. Huss, C. Huggel, S. Bajracharya, T. Bolch, A. Kulkarni, A. Linsbauer, N. Salzmann, and M. Stoffel
The Cryosphere, 8, 2313–2333,Short summary
Existing methods (area–volume relations, a slope-dependent volume estimation method, and two ice-thickness distribution models) are used to estimate the ice reserves stored in Himalayan–Karakoram glaciers. Resulting volumes range from 2955–4737km³. Results from the ice-thickness distribution models agree well with local measurements; volume estimates from area-related relations exceed the estimates from the other approaches. Evidence on the effect of the selected method on results is provided.
M. Scherler, S. Schneider, M. Hoelzle, and C. Hauck
Earth Surf. Dynam., 2, 141–154,
M. Hoelzle and E. Reynard
Geogr. Helv., 68, 225–226,
M. Huss, A. Voinesco, and M. Hoelzle
Geogr. Helv., 68, 227–237,
S. Schneider, S. Daengeli, C. Hauck, and M. Hoelzle
Geogr. Helv., 68, 265–280,
W. J. J. van Pelt, J. Oerlemans, C. H. Reijmer, R. Pettersson, V. A. Pohjola, E. Isaksson, and D. Divine
The Cryosphere, 7, 987–1006,
P. Rastner, T. Bolch, N. Mölg, H. Machguth, R. Le Bris, and F. Paul
The Cryosphere, 6, 1483–1495,
Related subject area
Discipline: Glaciers | Subject: Energy Balance Obs/ModellingSeasonal and interannual variability of melt-season albedo at Haig Glacier, Canadian Rocky MountainsSurface energy fluxes on Chilean glaciers: measurements and modelsUsing 3D turbulence-resolving simulations to understand the impact of surface properties on the energy balance of a debris-covered glacierIncorporating moisture content in surface energy balance modeling of a debris-covered glacierSurface melt and the importance of water flow – an analysis based on high-resolution unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) data for an Arctic glacierGlacio-hydrological melt and run-off modelling: application of a limits of acceptability framework for model comparison and selection
Shawn J. Marshall and Kristina Miller
The Cryosphere, 14, 3249–3267,Short summary
Surface-albedo measurements from 2002 to 2017 from Haig Glacier in the Canadian Rockies provide no evidence of long-term trends (i.e., the glacier does not appear to be darkening), but there are large variations in albedo over the melt season and from year to year. The glacier ice is exceptionally dark in association with forest fire fallout but is effectively cleansed by meltwater or rainfall. Summer snowfall plays an important role in refreshing the glacier surface and reducing summer melt.
Marius Schaefer, Duilio Fonseca-Gallardo, David Farías-Barahona, and Gino Casassa
The Cryosphere, 14, 2545–2565,Short summary
Chile hosts glaciers in a large range of latitudes and climates. To project future ice extent, a sound quantification of the energy exchange between atmosphere and glaciers is needed. We present new data for six Chilean glaciers belonging to three glaciological zones. In the Central Andes, the main energy source for glacier melt is the incoming solar radiation, while in southern Patagonia heat provided by the mild and humid air is also important. Total melt rates are higher in Patagonia.
Pleun N. J. Bonekamp, Chiel C. van Heerwaarden, Jakob F. Steiner, and Walter W. Immerzeel
The Cryosphere, 14, 1611–1632,Short summary
Drivers controlling melt of debris-covered glaciers are largely unknown. With a 3D turbulence-resolving model the impact of surface properties of debris on micrometeorological variables and the conductive heat flux is shown. Also, we show ice cliffs are local melt hot spots and that turbulent fluxes and local heat advection amplify spatial heterogeneity on the surface.This work is important for glacier mass balance modelling and for the understanding of the evolution of debris-covered glaciers.
Alexandra Giese, Aaron Boone, Patrick Wagnon, and Robert Hawley
The Cryosphere, 14, 1555–1577,Short summary
Rocky debris on glacier surfaces is known to affect the melt of mountain glaciers. Debris can be dry or filled to varying extents with liquid water and ice; whether debris is dry, wet, and/or icy affects how efficiently heat is conducted through debris from its surface to the ice interface. Our paper presents a new energy balance model that simulates moisture phase, evolution, and location in debris. ISBA-DEB is applied to West Changri Nup glacier in Nepal to reveal important physical processes.
Eleanor A. Bash and Brian J. Moorman
The Cryosphere, 14, 549–563,Short summary
High-resolution measurements from unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) imagery allowed for examination of glacier melt model performance in detail at Fountain Glacier. This work capitalized on distributed measurements at 10 cm resolution to look at the spatial distribution of model errors in the ablation zone. Although the model agreed with measurements on average, strong correlation was found with surface water. The results highlight the contribution of surface water flow to melt at this location.
Jonathan D. Mackay, Nicholas E. Barrand, David M. Hannah, Stefan Krause, Christopher R. Jackson, Jez Everest, and Guðfinna Aðalgeirsdóttir
The Cryosphere, 12, 2175–2210,Short summary
We apply a framework to compare and objectively accept or reject competing melt and run-off process models. We found no acceptable models. Furthermore, increasing model complexity does not guarantee better predictions. The results highlight model selection uncertainty and the need for rigorous frameworks to identify deficiencies in competing models. The application of this approach in the future will help to better quantify model prediction uncertainty and develop improved process models.
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In our study we find that climate change is affecting the high-alpine Colle Gnifetti glacier (Swiss–Italian Alps) with an increase in melt amounts and ice temperatures. In the near future this trend could threaten the viability of the oldest ice core record in the Alps. To reach our conclusions, for the first time we used the meteorological data of the highest permanent weather station in Europe (Capanna Margherita, 4560 m), together with an advanced numeric simulation of the glacier.
In our study we find that climate change is affecting the high-alpine Colle Gnifetti glacier...