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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2016-105
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2016-105
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 09 Jun 2016

Submitted as: research article | 09 Jun 2016

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It has been under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC). The revised manuscript was not accepted.

Glacier surface mass balance modeling in the inner tropics using a positive degree-day approach

L. Maisincho1,2, V. Favier3, P. Wagnon2,4, V. Jomelli5, R. Basantes Serrano2,3,8, B. Francou2, M. Villacis6, A. Rabatel3, M. Ménégoz7, L. Mourre2, and B. Cáceres1 L. Maisincho et al.
  • 1INAMHI, Instituto Nacional de Meteorología e Hidrología, Iñaquito N36-14 y Corea, Quito, Ecuador
  • 2IRD, Univ. Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, INPG, Laboratoire d'étude des Transferts en Hydrologie et Environnement (LTHE), UMR5564, F-38000 Grenoble, France
  • 3Univ. Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Géophysique de l’Environnement (LGGE), UMR5183, F-38000 Grenoble, France
  • 4ICIMOD, GPO Box 3226, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • 5Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, CNRS, Laboratoire de Géographie Physique (LGP), 92195 Meudon, France
  • 6Escuela Politécnica Nacional (EPN), Ladrón de Guevara E11-253, Quito, Ecuador
  • 7Institut Català de Ciènces del Clima (IC3), Doctor Trueta, 203 3a planta 08005 Barcelona (Spain)
  • 8Universidad Regional Amazónica (IKIAM), Km 7, Via Muyuna-Atacapi, Tena, Ecuador

Abstract. We present a basic ablation model combining a positive degree-day approach to calculate melting and a simple equation based on wind speed to compute sublimation. The model was calibrated at point scale (4900 m a.s.l.) on Antizana Glacier 15 (0.28 km2; 0°28' S, 78°09' W) with data from March 2002 to August 2003 and validated with data from January to November 2005. Cross validation was performed by interchanging the calibration and validation periods. Optimization of the model based on the calculated surface energy balance allowed degree-day factors to be retrieved for snow and ice, and suggests that melting started when daily air temperature was still below 0 °C, because incoming shortwave radiation was intense around noon and resulted in positive temperatures for a few hours a day. The model was then distributed over the glacier and applied to the 2000–2008 period using meteorological inputs measured on the glacier foreland to assess to what extent this approach is suitable for quantifying glacier surface mass balance in Ecuador. Results showed that a model based on temperature, wind speed, and precipitation is able to reproduce a large part of surface mass-balance variability of Antizana Glacier 15 even though the melting factors for snow and ice may vary with time. The model performed well because temperatures were significantly correlated with albedo and net shortwave radiation. Because this relationship disappeared when strong winds result in mixed air in the surface boundary layer, this model should not be extrapolated to other tropical regions where sublimation increases during a pronounced dry season or where glaciers are located above the mean freezing level.

L. Maisincho et al.
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L. Maisincho et al.
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Short summary
Studies performed in the outer tropics suggested that Positive Degree-Day (PDD) model should be used with caution in tropical areas because temperature is not directly linked to the main local melting processes. Using an enhanced PDD model in the inner tropics during nine years allowed an accurate modelling of the glacier-wide mass balances and ablation on the Antizana glacier. This proves the high sensitivity of glaciers to temperature changes in Ecuador.
Studies performed in the outer tropics suggested that Positive Degree-Day (PDD) model should be...
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