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Brief communication: On area- and slope-related thickness estimates and volume calculations for unmeasured glaciers


Haeberli, Wilfried (2016). Brief communication: On area- and slope-related thickness estimates and volume calculations for unmeasured glaciers. Cryosphere Discussions:Epub ahead of print.

Abstract

Area- and slope-related techniques have been used to estimate thicknesses and to calculate volumes of unmeasured glaciers on the basis of glacier outlines and corresponding glacier surface areas in glacier inventories. The present communication critically reflects key aspects involved with the application of these approaches to field data. Area-related empirical statistics are known to only provide order-of-magnitude estimates if applied to individual glaciers or glacier ensembles spanning less than several orders of magnitude. Even at this scale, however, problems exist with respect to calibration/validation, error propagation, artefacts (immediate mass loss in case of coalescing/disintegrating composite glaciers) and shortcomings (no detection of ice below sea level or below lake levels on land in view of glacier contributions to sea-level rise). 3-D-flux/stress/slope-related approaches and numerical models are better constrained by calibration/validation with field measurements. They help with overcoming the problems of 2-D-area-related statistics in that they allow for calculating detailed glacier bed topographies at all scales, from individual glaciers to global ensembles. Corresponding results are available today and can be further improved.

Abstract

Area- and slope-related techniques have been used to estimate thicknesses and to calculate volumes of unmeasured glaciers on the basis of glacier outlines and corresponding glacier surface areas in glacier inventories. The present communication critically reflects key aspects involved with the application of these approaches to field data. Area-related empirical statistics are known to only provide order-of-magnitude estimates if applied to individual glaciers or glacier ensembles spanning less than several orders of magnitude. Even at this scale, however, problems exist with respect to calibration/validation, error propagation, artefacts (immediate mass loss in case of coalescing/disintegrating composite glaciers) and shortcomings (no detection of ice below sea level or below lake levels on land in view of glacier contributions to sea-level rise). 3-D-flux/stress/slope-related approaches and numerical models are better constrained by calibration/validation with field measurements. They help with overcoming the problems of 2-D-area-related statistics in that they allow for calculating detailed glacier bed topographies at all scales, from individual glaciers to global ensembles. Corresponding results are available today and can be further improved.

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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:2016
Deposited On:15 Nov 2016 17:00
Last Modified:02 Jun 2017 19:36
Publisher:Copernicus Publications
ISSN:1994-0440
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2015-222

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Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)

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