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Exploring uncertainty in glacier mass balance modelling with Monte Carlo simulation


Machguth, Horst; Purves, Ross S; Oerlemans, Johannes; Hoelzle, Martin; Paul, Frank (2008). Exploring uncertainty in glacier mass balance modelling with Monte Carlo simulation. The Cryosphere, 2(2):191-204.

Abstract

By means of Monte Carlo simulations we calculated uncertainty in modelled cumulative mass balance over 400 days at one particular point on the tongue of Morteratsch Glacier, Switzerland, using a glacier energy balance model of intermediate complexity. Before uncertainty assessment, the model was tuned to observed mass balance for the investigated time period and its robustness was tested by comparing observed and modelled mass balance over 11 years, yielding very small deviations. Both systematic and random uncertainties are assigned to twelve input parameters and their respective values estimated from the literature or from available meteorological data sets. The calculated overall uncertainty in the model output is dominated by systematic errors and amounts to 0.7 m w.e. or approximately 10% of total melt over the investigated time span. In order to provide a first order estimate on variability in uncertainty depending on the quality of input data, we conducted a further experiment, calculating overall uncertainty for different levels of uncertainty in measured global radiation and air temperature. Our results show that the output of a well calibrated model is subject to considerable uncertainties, in particular when applied for extrapolation in time and space where systematic errors are likely to be an important issue.

Abstract

By means of Monte Carlo simulations we calculated uncertainty in modelled cumulative mass balance over 400 days at one particular point on the tongue of Morteratsch Glacier, Switzerland, using a glacier energy balance model of intermediate complexity. Before uncertainty assessment, the model was tuned to observed mass balance for the investigated time period and its robustness was tested by comparing observed and modelled mass balance over 11 years, yielding very small deviations. Both systematic and random uncertainties are assigned to twelve input parameters and their respective values estimated from the literature or from available meteorological data sets. The calculated overall uncertainty in the model output is dominated by systematic errors and amounts to 0.7 m w.e. or approximately 10% of total melt over the investigated time span. In order to provide a first order estimate on variability in uncertainty depending on the quality of input data, we conducted a further experiment, calculating overall uncertainty for different levels of uncertainty in measured global radiation and air temperature. Our results show that the output of a well calibrated model is subject to considerable uncertainties, in particular when applied for extrapolation in time and space where systematic errors are likely to be an important issue.

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20 citations in Web of Science®
22 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:8 December 2008
Deposited On:20 Jan 2009 17:20
Last Modified:02 Dec 2016 08:52
Publisher:Copernicus Publications
ISSN:1994-0416
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2-191-2008
Official URL:http://www.the-cryosphere.net/2/191/2008/tc-2-191-2008.html

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