Publications - Occasional Papers

Glacier Mass Balance and Regime: Data of Measurements and Analysis

INSTAAR Occasional Paper 55

2002, 268 pp. (cost: $15)

This is the most complete data set of parameters of glacier regime have ever been compiled and published before. Data presented in appendixes include annual mass balances and related variables of mountain and subpolar glaciers outside the two major ice sheets. All available sources of information, such as publications, archived data, personal communications have been collected and include time-series of about 280 glaciers. Only observational data have been used over the period since the beginning of measurements started in 1945/46 and until 1998. Data have been digitized and quality checked, and all errors found were eliminated. These all enhanced our knowledge on the modern glacier states, particularly:

  1. The rate of annual melt-water production (ablation) by glaciers has been increasing, and comprised of about 1.7 m/yr in water equivalent for the period.
  2. The annual accumulation (winter balance) rate has also been increasing with the average value of about 1.5 m/yr in water equivalent.
  3. Annual volume change has been 90 km3/yr adding about 15-20% (0.25±0.11 mm/yr) to sea-level rise over the period.
  4. The equilibrium-line altitude has risen by 200 m (square root error is about 100 m).
  5. Accumulation area ratio decreased from about 60% in 1968 to 50% in 1998 (square root error is about 5%).
  6. The mass balance sensitivity with respect to air temperature has changed at the end of 1980’s and reached – 700 mm per degree °C.

The existing trend in glacier volume change shows that wastage of glaciers will accelerate in continental regions, North America South America, Central Asia. Subpolar glaciers, outside the two major ice sheets, will contribute more to sea-level rise.

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