The Cryosphere Discuss., 7, 5147-5175, 2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed
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This discussion paper has been under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC). Please refer to the corresponding final paper in TC.
Little Ice Age climate reconstruction from ensemble reanalysis of Alpine glacier fluctuations
M. P. Lüthi
VAW Glaciology, ETH Zürich, 8093 Zürich, Switzerland

Abstract. Mountain glaciers sample a combination of climate parameters – temperature, precipitation and radiation – by their rate of volume accumulation and loss. Flow dynamics acts as transfer function which maps volume changes to a length response of the glacier terminus. Long histories of terminus positions have been assembled for several glaciers in the Alps. Here I analyze terminus position histories from an ensemble of seven glaciers in the Alps with a macroscopic model of glacier dynamics to derive a history of glacier equilibrium line altitude (ELA) for the time span 400–2010 C.E. The resulting climatic reconstruction depends only on records of glacier variations. The reconstructed ELA history is similar to recent reconstructions of Alpine summer temperature and Atlantic Meridional Oscillation (AMO) index. Most reconstructed low-ELA periods coincide with large explosive volcano eruptions, hinting to mass balance reduction by volcanic radiative cooling. The glacier advances during the LIA, and the retreat after 1860 are thus explained by temperature and volcanic cooling alone.

Citation: Lüthi, M. P.: Little Ice Age climate reconstruction from ensemble reanalysis of Alpine glacier fluctuations, The Cryosphere Discuss., 7, 5147-5175, doi:10.5194/tcd-7-5147-2013, 2013.
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