Journal cover Journal topic
The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
The Cryosphere, 7, 1227-1245, 2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
06 Aug 2013
Reanalysing glacier mass balance measurement series
M. Zemp1, E. Thibert2, M. Huss3, D. Stumm4, C. Rolstad Denby5, C. Nuth6, S. U. Nussbaumer1, G. Moholdt7, A. Mercer8, C. Mayer9, P. C. Joerg1, P. Jansson8, B. Hynek10, A. Fischer11, H. Escher-Vetter9, H. Elvehøy12, and L. M. Andreassen12 1Department of Geography, University of Zurich (UZH), Zurich, Switzerland
2IRSTEA, UR ETGR Erosion Torrentielle, Neige et Avalanches, Saint-Martin-d'Hères, France
3Department of Geosciences, University of Fribourg (UFR), Fribourg, Switzerland
4International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Kathmandu, Nepal
5Department of Mathematical Sciences and Technology, The Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB), Ås, Norway
6Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo (UiO), Oslo, Norway
7Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, USA
8Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
9Commission for Geodesy and Glaciology, Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Munich, Germany
10Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik (ZAMG), Vienna, Austria
11Institute for Interdisciplinary Mountain Research, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Innsbruck, Austria
12Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE), Oslo, Norway
Abstract. Glacier-wide mass balance has been measured for more than sixty years and is widely used as an indicator of climate change and to assess the glacier contribution to runoff and sea level rise. Until recently, comprehensive uncertainty assessments have rarely been carried out and mass balance data have often been applied using rough error estimation or without consideration of errors. In this study, we propose a framework for reanalysing glacier mass balance series that includes conceptual and statistical toolsets for assessment of random and systematic errors, as well as for validation and calibration (if necessary) of the glaciological with the geodetic balance results. We demonstrate the usefulness and limitations of the proposed scheme, drawing on an analysis that comprises over 50 recording periods for a dozen glaciers, and we make recommendations to investigators and users of glacier mass balance data. Reanalysing glacier mass balance series needs to become a standard procedure for every monitoring programme to improve data quality, including reliable uncertainty estimates.

Citation: Zemp, M., Thibert, E., Huss, M., Stumm, D., Rolstad Denby, C., Nuth, C., Nussbaumer, S. U., Moholdt, G., Mercer, A., Mayer, C., Joerg, P. C., Jansson, P., Hynek, B., Fischer, A., Escher-Vetter, H., Elvehøy, H., and Andreassen, L. M.: Reanalysing glacier mass balance measurement series, The Cryosphere, 7, 1227-1245,, 2013.
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