Articles | Volume 6, issue 3
The Cryosphere, 6, 641–659, 2012
The Cryosphere, 6, 641–659, 2012

Research article 08 Jun 2012

Research article | 08 Jun 2012

Simulating melt, runoff and refreezing on Nordenskiöldbreen, Svalbard, using a coupled snow and energy balance model

W. J. J. van Pelt1, J. Oerlemans1, C. H. Reijmer1, V. A. Pohjola2, R. Pettersson2, and J. H. van Angelen1 W. J. J. van Pelt et al.
  • 1Institute for Marine and Atmospheric research, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • 2Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden

Abstract. A distributed energy balance model is coupled to a multi-layer snow model in order to study the mass balance evolution and the impact of refreezing on the mass budget of Nordenskiöldbreen, Svalbard. The model is forced with output from the regional climate model RACMO and meteorological data from Svalbard Airport. Extensive calibration and initialisation are performed to increase the model accuracy. For the period 1989–2010, we find a mean net mass balance of −0.39 m w.e. a−1. Refreezing contributes on average 0.27 m w.e. a−1 to the mass budget and is most pronounced in the accumulation zone. The simulated mass balance, radiative fluxes and subsurface profiles are validated against observations and are generally in good agreement. Climate sensitivity experiments reveal a non-linear, seasonally dependent response of the mass balance, refreezing and runoff to changes in temperature and precipitation. It is shown that including seasonality in climate change, with less pronounced summer warming, reduces the sensitivity of the mass balance and equilibrium line altitude (ELA) estimates in a future climate. The amount of refreezing is shown to be rather insensitive to changes in climate.