The direct comparison of modeled glacier mass-balance distribution with field measurements could be problematic, as the methodology of determination and the processes considered at the point or catchment scale could differ strongly. Moreover, direct measurements cover only small parts of a glacier, and model performance is thus difficult to assess outside these regions. Remaining opportunities
for model validation include comparison of snowlines, as derived from remote-sensing data, and maps of the mass-balance distribution, as interpreted by observers with local knowledge. This study compares such hand-drawn maps of the Vernagtferner (Oetzal Alps) mass balance with the modeled pattern as obtained from a distributed energy-/mass-balance model of intermediate complexity. The model is driven by measured daily values of temperature, global radiation and precipitation from a nearby climate station
and grids of mean daily potential global radiation and climatologic annual precipitation sums. Compared with the direct measurements, the calculated mean mass balance and equilibrium-line altitude agreed very well in both balance years, although the spatial pattern of the mass-balance distribution displayed larger deviations in regions influenced by snowdrift or local topographic undulations. However, compared with the remaining snow as visible on a satellite image from 1999, the modeled snowline pattern for a larger sample of glaciers is in very good agreement.