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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-158
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-158
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 04 Sep 2019

Submitted as: research article | 04 Sep 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).

Strong changes in englacial temperatures despite insignificantchanges in ice thickness at Dôme du Goûter glacier (Mont-Blanc area)

Christian Vincent1, Adrien Gilbert1, Bruno Jourdain1, Luc Piard1, Patrick Ginot1, Vladimir Mikhalenko2, Philippe Possenti1, Emmanuel Le Meur1, Olivier Laarman1, and Delphine Six1 Christian Vincent et al.
  • 1Univ. Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, IRD, Grenoble INP, IGE, 38000 Grenoble, France
  • 2Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences

Abstract. The response of very high elevation glaciated areas on Mont Blanc to climate change has been analyzed using observations and numerical modeling. Unlike the changes at low elevations, we observe very low glacier thickness changes, of about −2.6 m on the average since 1993. The slight changes in horizontal ice flow velocities and submergence velocities suggest a decrease of about 10 % in ice flux and surface mass balance. This is due to snow accumulation changes and is consistent with the precipitation decrease observed in meteorological data. Conversely, measurements performed in deep boreholes since 1994 reveal strong changes in englacial temperature reaching 1.5 °C at a depth of 50 m. We conclude that at such very high elevations, current changes in climate do not lead to visible changes in glacier thickness but cause invisible changes within the glacier in terms of englacial temperatures. Our analysis from numerical modeling shows that glacier near-surface temperature warming is enhanced by increasing melt-frequency at high elevations although the impact on surface mass balance is low. This results in a non-linear response of englacial temperature to currently rising air temperatures. In addition, borehole temperature inversion including a new dataset confirms previous findings of similar air temperature changes at high and low elevations in the Alps.

Christian Vincent et al.
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Short summary
We observed very low glacier thickness changes over the last decades at very high elevation glaciated areas on Mont Blanc. Conversely, measurements performed in deep boreholes since 1994 reveal strong changes in englacial temperature reaching 1.5 °C at a depth of 50 m. We conclude that at such very high elevations, current changes in climate do not lead to visible changes in glacier thickness but cause invisible changes within the glacier in terms of englacial temperatures.
We observed very low glacier thickness changes over the last decades at very high elevation...
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