Articles | Volume 9, issue 6
The Cryosphere, 9, 2135–2148, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-9-2135-2015
The Cryosphere, 9, 2135–2148, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-9-2135-2015

Research article 18 Nov 2015

Research article | 18 Nov 2015

From Doktor Kurowski's Schneegrenze to our modern glacier equilibrium line altitude (ELA)

R. J. Braithwaite

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Short summary
Kurowski suggested in 1891 that ELA is equal to the mean altitude of the glacier when the glacier is in balance. I compare mean altitude with balanced-budget ELA for 103 modern glaciers. Kurowski’s mean altitude is significantly higher (at 95% level) than balanced-budget ELA for 19 outlet and 42 valley glaciers, but not significantly higher for 34 mountain glaciers. The error in Kurowski mean altitude as a predictor of balanced budget might be due to non-linearity in balance gradients.