lecture_5 - LECTURE 5 - GLACIER MASS BALANCE GAINS AND...

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BALANCE GAINS AND LOSSES OF GLACIER MASS The mass balance of a glacier describes the input/output relationship of ice, firn, snow. The difference between accumulation and ablation for a whole glacier over one year is called the net balance . The balance year is the interval between the time of minimum mass one calendar year and the time of minimum mass in the following calendar year. A positive net balance implies that the glacier as a whole has gained snow and ice, whereas a negative mass balance describes an overall loss of snow and ice. A zero mass balance implies that the winter and summer balances are equal. Data for Storglaciären in Sweden shows the net mass balance has been positive for only five balance years in the period 1945-73, zero for one balance year, and negative for the remaining years. CONCLUSION: If the surface of a glacier is to remain in equilibrium there must be a transfer of mass from above to below the equilibrium line. Glaciers in humid areas where accumulation and ablation is high should flow faster than glaciers in dry areas where accumulation and ablation is low. Any prolonged positive net mass balance will result in advance of the glacier margin and prolonged negative net mass balance will result in a retreat of the glacier margin. Most glacier snout fluctuations can be seen as
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lecture_5 - LECTURE 5 - GLACIER MASS BALANCE GAINS AND...

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