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https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-75
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-75
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 28 Apr 2020

Submitted as: research article | 28 Apr 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Numerical modeling of the dynamics of Mer de Glace glacier, French Alps: comparison with past observations and forecasting of near future evolution

Vincent Peyaud1, Coline Bouchayer1,2, Olivier Gagliardini1, Christian Vincent1, Fabien Gillet-Chaulet1, Delphine Six1, and Olivier Laarman1 Vincent Peyaud et al.
  • 1Univ. Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, IRD, Grenoble INP, IGE, 38000 Grenoble, France
  • 2Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, 0316 Oslo, Norway

Abstract. All alpine glaciers are shrinking and retreating at an accelerating rate in a warming climate. Glacier modeling is required to assess the future consequences of this retreat on water resources, the hydropower industry and risk management. However, the performance of such ice flow modeling is generally difficult to evaluate because of the lack of long-term glaciological observations. Here, we assess the performance of the Elmer/Ice full-Stokes ice flow model using the long dataset of mass balance, thickness change, ice flow velocity and snout fluctuation measurements obtained between 1979 and 2015 on the Mer de Glace (Mont Blanc area). Ice flow modeling results are compared in detail to comprehensive glaciological observations over four decades including both a period of glacier expansion and a long period of decay. To our knowledge a comparison to data at this detail is unprecedented. We found that the model accurately reconstructs the velocity and elevation variations of this glacier despite some discrepancies that remain unexplained. The calibrated and validated model was then applied to simulate the future evolution of Mer de Glace from 2015 to 2050 using 26 different climate scenarios. Depending on the climate scenarios, this glacier, the largest in France, could retreat by 2 to 5 km over the next three decades.

Vincent Peyaud et al.

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Short summary
Alpine glaciers are retreating at an accelerating rate in a warming climate. Numerical models allow us to study and anticipate these changes but the performance of a model is difficult to evaluate. So, we compared an ice flow model with the long dataset of observations obtained between 1979 and 2015 on the Mer de Glace (Mont Blanc area). The model accurately reconstructs the past evolution of the glacier. We simulate the future evolution of Mer de Glace: it could retreat by 2 to 5 km until 2050.
Alpine glaciers are retreating at an accelerating rate in a warming climate. Numerical models...
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