Sensitivity of glacier runoff towinter snow thickness investigated for Vatnajökull ice cap, Iceland, using numerical models and observations

Louise Steffensen Schmidt*, Peter L. Langen, Guofinna Aoalgeirsdóttir, Finnur Pálsson, Sverrir Guomundsson, Andri Gunnarsson, Gudfinna Adalgeirsdottir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Several simulations of the surface climate and energy balance of Vatnajökull ice cap, Iceland, are used to estimate the glacier runoff for the period 1980-2015 and the sensitivity of runoff to the spring conditions (e.g., snow thickness). The simulations are calculated using the snow pack scheme from the regional climate model HIRHAM5, forced with incoming mass and energy fluxes from the numerical weather prediction model HARMONIE-AROME. The modeled runoff is compared to available observations from two outlet glaciers to assess the quality of the simulations. To test the sensitivity of the runoff to spring conditions, simulations are repeated for the spring conditions of each of the years 1980-2015, followed by the weather of all summers in the same period. We find that for the whole ice cap, the variability in runoff as a function of varying spring conditions was on average 31% of the variability due to changing summer weather. However, some outlet glaciers are very sensitive to the amount of snow in the spring, as e.g., the variation in runoff from Brúarjökull due to changing spring conditions was on average 50% of the variability due to varying summer weather.

Original languageEnglish
Article number450
Number of pages450
JournalATMOSPHERE
Volume9
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 by the authors.

Other keywords

  • Glaciers
  • Regional climate models
  • Runoff sensitivity
  • Snow-albedo feedback
  • Snowfall
  • Jöklar
  • Snjóalög
  • Líkön
  • Bráðnun (jöklafræði)

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