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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 3, issue 1
The Cryosphere, 3, 57-74, 2009
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-3-57-2009
© Author(s) 2009. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
The Cryosphere, 3, 57-74, 2009
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-3-57-2009
© Author(s) 2009. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

  20 Mar 2009

20 Mar 2009

Comparison of the meteorology and surface energy balance at Storbreen and Midtdalsbreen, two glaciers in southern Norway

R. H. Giesen1, L. M. Andreassen2,3, M. R. van den Broeke1, and J. Oerlemans1 R. H. Giesen et al.
  • 1Institute for Marine and Atmospheric research Utrecht, Utrecht University, Princetonplein 5, 3584 CC Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • 2Section for Glaciers, Snow and Ice, Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate, P.O. Box 5091 Majorstua, 0316 Oslo, Norway
  • 3Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1047 Blindern, 0316 Oslo, Norway

Abstract. We compare 5 years of meteorological records from automatic weather stations (AWSs) on Storbreen and Midtdalsbreen, two glaciers in southern Norway, located approximately 120 km apart. The records are obtained from identical AWSs with an altitude difference of 120 m and cover the period September 2001 to September 2006. Air temperature at the AWS locations is found to be highly correlated, even with the seasonal cycle removed. The most striking difference between the two sites is the difference in wind climate. Midtdalsbreen is much more under influence of the large-scale circulation with wind speeds on average a factor 1.75 higher. On Storbreen, weaker katabatic winds are dominant. The main melt season is from May to September at both locations. During the melt season, incoming and net solar radiation are larger on Midtdalsbreen, whereas incoming and net longwave radiation are larger on Storbreen, primarily caused by thicker clouds on the latter. The turbulent fluxes are a factor 1.7 larger on Midtdalsbreen, mainly due to the higher wind speeds. Inter-daily fluctuations in the surface energy fluxes are very similar at the AWS sites. On average, melt energy is a factor 1.3 larger on Midtdalsbreen, a result of both larger net radiation and larger turbulent fluxes. The relative contribution of net radiation to surface melt is larger on Storbreen (76%) than on Midtdalsbreen (66%). As winter snow depth at the two locations is comparable in most years, the larger amount of melt energy results in an earlier disappearance of the snowpack on Midtdalsbreen and 70% more ice melt than on Storbreen. We compare the relative and absolute values of the energy fluxes on Storbreen and Midtdalsbreen with reported values for glaciers at similar latitudes. Furthermore, a comparison is made with meteorological variables measured at two nearby weather stations, showing that on-site measurements are essential for an accurate calculation of the surface energy balance and melt rate.

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