The Cryosphere Discuss., 7, 789-839, 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.
Uncertainties and re-analysis of glacier mass balance measurements
M. Zemp1, E. Thibert2, M. Huss3, D. Stumm4, C. Rolstad Denby5, C. Nuth6, S. U. Nussbaumer1, G. Moholdt7, A. Mercer8, C. Mayer9, P. C. Joerg1, P. Jansson8, B. Hynek10, A. Fischer11, H. Escher-Vetter9, H. Elvehøy12, and L. M. Andreassen12
1Department of Geography, University of Zurich (UZH), Zurich, Switzerland
2IRSTEA, UR ETGR Erosion Torrentielle Neige et Avalanches, Saint-Martin-d'Hères, France
3Department of Geosciences, University of Fribourg (UFR), Fribourg, Switzerland
4International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Kathmandu, Nepal
5Department of Mathematical Sciences and Technology, The Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB), Ås, Norway
6Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo (UiO), Oslo, Norway
7Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, USA
8Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
9Commission for Geodesy and Glaciology, Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Munich, Germany
10Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik (ZAMG), Vienna, Austria
11Institute for Interdisciplinary Mountain Research, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Innsbruck, Austria
12Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE), Oslo, Norway

Abstract. Glacier-wide mass balance has been measured for more than sixty years and is widely used as an indicator of climate change and to assess the glacier contribution to runoff and sea level rise. Until present, comprehensive uncertainty assessments have rarely been carried out and mass balance data have often been applied using rough error estimation or without error considerations. In this study, we propose a framework for re-analyzing glacier mass balance series including conceptual and statistical toolsets for assessment of random and systematic errors as well as for validation and calibration (if necessary) of the glaciological with the geodetic balance results. We demonstrate the usefulness and limitations of the proposed scheme drawing on an analysis that comprises over 50 recording periods for a dozen glaciers and we make recommendations to investigators and users of glacier mass balance data. Reanalysis of glacier mass balance series needs to become a standard procedure for every monitoring programme to improve data quality and provide thorough uncertainty estimates.

Citation: Zemp, M., Thibert, E., Huss, M., Stumm, D., Rolstad Denby, C., Nuth, C., Nussbaumer, S. U., Moholdt, G., Mercer, A., Mayer, C., Joerg, P. C., Jansson, P., Hynek, B., Fischer, A., Escher-Vetter, H., Elvehøy, H., and Andreassen, L. M.: Uncertainties and re-analysis of glacier mass balance measurements, The Cryosphere Discuss., 7, 789-839, doi:10.5194/tcd-7-789-2013, 2013.
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