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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 9, issue 1
The Cryosphere, 9, 25-35, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-9-25-2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
The Cryosphere, 9, 25-35, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-9-25-2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 06 Jan 2015

Research article | 06 Jan 2015

Quantifying mass balance processes on the Southern Patagonia Icefield

M. Schaefer1,2, H. Machguth3, M. Falvey4, G. Casassa5,6, and E. Rignot7,8 M. Schaefer et al.
  • 1Instituto de Ciencias Físicas y Matematicas, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia, Chile
  • 2Instituto de Ciencias Marinas y Limnológicas, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia, Chile
  • 3Arctic Technology Centre, Technical University of Denmark, Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark
  • 4Department of Geophysics, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile
  • 5Geoestudios, Las Vertientes, San José de Maipo, Chile
  • 6Universidad de Magallanes, Punta Arenas, Chile
  • 7Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, USA
  • 8University of California, Department of Earth System Science, Irvine, CA, USA

Abstract. We present surface mass balance simulations of the Southern Patagonia Icefield (SPI) driven by downscaled reanalysis data. The simulations were evaluated and interpreted using geodetic mass balances, measured point balances and a complete velocity field of the icefield for spring 2004. The high measured accumulation of snow of up to 15.4 m w.e. yr−1 (meters water equivalent per year) as well as the high measured ablation of up to 11 m w.e. yr−1 is reproduced by the model. The overall modeled surface mass balance was positive and increasing during 1975–2011. Subtracting the surface mass balance from geodetic balances, calving fluxes were inferred. Mass losses of the SPI due to calving were strongly increasing from 1975–2000 to 2000–2011 and higher than losses due to surface melt. Calving fluxes were inferred for the individual glacier catchments and compared to fluxes estimated from velocity data. Measurements of ice thickness and flow velocities at the glaciers' front and spatially distributed accumulation measurements can help to reduce the uncertainties of the different terms in the mass balance of the Southern Patagonia Icefield.

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We use a meteorological-glaciological multi-model approach to quantify, for the first time, melt and accumulation of snow on the Southern Patagonia Icefield (SPI). We were able to reproduce the high measured accumulation of snow of up to 15.4 m water equivalent per year as well as the high measured ablation of up to 11 m water equivalent per year. Mass losses of the SPI due to calving of icebergs strongly increased from 1975-2000 to 2000-2011 and were higher than losses due to surface melt.
We use a meteorological-glaciological multi-model approach to quantify, for the first time, melt...
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