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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-2019-275
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-275
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 16 Dec 2019

Submitted as: research article | 16 Dec 2019

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

Modelling regional glacier length changes over the last millennium using the Open Global Glacier Model

David Parkes and Hugues Goosse David Parkes and Hugues Goosse
  • Universite Catholique de Louvain, Belgium

Abstract. A large majority of the direct observational record for glacier changes falls within the post-industrial period, associated with global glacier retreat. Given this availability of data, and significant focus in contemporary glacier modelling falling on post-industrial retreat, glacier models are typically calibrated using – and validated with – only observations from points where glaciers were considerably out of equilibrium. In order to develop a broader picture of the skill of one glacier model in active development – the Open Global Glacier Model (OGGM) – we model glaciers for extended historical timescales of 850–2004 CE using a selection of 6 climate model outputs, including recent post-industrial history. We select glaciers for which long term glacier length observations are available, in order to compare these observations with the model results, and we find glaciers for this purpose in almost all glacierised regions globally. In many regions, the modelled glacier changes are consistent with observations, with recent retreat often as rapid as – or sometimes more rapid than – modelled retreats. We also model this set of glaciers using modified climate timeseries from each of the 6 climate models to keep temperature or precipitation constant, testing the impact of each individually. Temperature typically explains considerably more variance in glacier lengths than precipitation, but results suggest that the interaction between the two is also significant within OGGM and neither can be seen as a simple proxy for glacier length changes. Overall, with the vast majority of glaciers successfully modelled, and recent observational trends in many regions reproduced by the model running over a considerably larger timescale than it is calibrated for, prospects are good for more widespread use of OGGM for timescales extending to the pre-industrial, where glaciers are typically larger and experience less rapid (and less globally consistent) geometry changes.

David Parkes and Hugues Goosse
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Status: open (until 10 Feb 2020)
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David Parkes and Hugues Goosse
David Parkes and Hugues Goosse
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Short summary
Direct records of glacier changes rarely go back more than the last 100 years, and are few and far between. We used a sophisticated glacier model to simulate glacier length changes over the last 1000 years for those glaciers we do have long-term records of, to determine whether the model can run in a stable, realistic way over a long timescale, reproducing recent observed trends. We find that post-industrial changes are larger than other changes in this time period, driven by recent warming.
Direct records of glacier changes rarely go back more than the last 100 years, and are few and...
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