A fifty year record of winter glacier melt events in southern Chile, 38°–42°S

Benjamin Brock, Flavia Burger, Andrés Rivera, Aldo Montecinos

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8 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Little is known about the frequency and potential mass balance impact of winter glacier melt events. In this study, daily atmospheric temperature soundings from the Puerto Montt radiosonde (41.43°S) are used to reconstruct winter melting events at the glacier equilibrium line altitude in the 38°–42°S region of southern Chile, between 1960 and 2010. The representativeness of the radiosonde temperatures to near-surface glacier temperatures is demonstrated using meteorological records from close to the equilibrium line on two glaciers in the region over five winters. Using a degree-day model we estimate an average of 0.28 m of melt and 21 melt days in the 15 June–15 September period each year, with high inter-annual variability. The majority of melt events are associated with midlatitude migratory high pressure systems crossing Chile and northwesterly flows, that force adiabatic compression and warm advection, respectively. There are no trends in the frequency or magnitude of melt events over the period of record, but the annual frequency of winter melt days shows a significant, although rather weak and probably non-linear, relationship to late winter and early spring values of a multivariate El Niño Southern Oscillation Index (MEI).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)045403
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Volume7
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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