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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/tc-2015-222
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Brief communication
15 Jan 2016
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A revision of this discussion paper for further review has not been submitted.
Brief communication: On area- and slope-related thickness estimates and volume calculations for unmeasured glaciers
W. Haeberli Geography Department, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland
Abstract. Area- and slope-related techniques have been used to estimate thicknesses and to calculate volumes of unmeasured glaciers on the basis of glacier outlines and corresponding glacier surface areas in glacier inventories. The present communication critically reflects key aspects involved with the application of these approaches to field data. Area-related empirical statistics are known to only provide order-of-magnitude estimates if applied to individual glaciers or glacier ensembles spanning less than several orders of magnitude. Even at this scale, however, problems exist with respect to calibration/validation, error propagation, artefacts (immediate mass loss in case of coalescing/disintegrating composite glaciers) and shortcomings (no detection of ice below sea level or below lake levels on land in view of glacier contributions to sea-level rise). 3-D-flux/stress/slope-related approaches and numerical models are better constrained by calibration/validation with field measurements. They help with overcoming the problems of 2-D-area-related statistics in that they allow for calculating detailed glacier bed topographies at all scales, from individual glaciers to global ensembles. Corresponding results are available today and can be further improved.

Citation: Haeberli, W.: Brief communication: On area- and slope-related thickness estimates and volume calculations for unmeasured glaciers, The Cryosphere Discuss., doi:10.5194/tc-2015-222, in review, 2016.
W. Haeberli
W. Haeberli

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Short summary
Area- and slope-related approaches for estimating thicknesses and calculating volumes of unmeasured glaciers are compared with respect to statistical regression/correlation, area definition, error propagation, calibration/validation and average versus distributed values. Slope-related techniques and numerical modeling making full use of 3-D-information are better constrained and provide realistic glacier-bed topographies. Corresponding results are available at local to regional and global scales
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