Modeling 2m air temperatures over mountain glaciers: Exploring the influence of katabatic cooling and external warming

Alavaro Ayala, Francesca Pellicciotti, J. M. Shea

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34 Citations (Scopus)
22 Downloads (Pure)


Air temperature is one of the most relevant input variables for snow and ice melt calculations. However, local meteorological conditions, complex topography, and logistical concerns in glacierized regions make the measuring and modeling of air temperature a difficult task. In this study, we investigate the spatial distribution of 2 m air temperature over mountain glaciers and propose a modification to an existing model to improve its representation. Spatially distributed meteorological data from Haut Glacier d'Arolla (Switzerland), Place (Canada), and Juncal Norte (Chile) Glaciers are used to examine approximate flow line temperatures during their respective ablation seasons. During warm conditions (off-glacier temperatures well above 0°C), observed air temperatures in the upper reaches of Place Glacier and Haut Glacier d'Arolla decrease down glacier along the approximate flow line. At Juncal Norte and Haut Glacier d'Arolla, an increase in air temperature is observed over the glacier tongue. While the temperature behavior over the upper part can be explained by the cooling effect of the glacier surface, the temperature increase over the glacier tongue may be caused by several processes induced by the surrounding warm atmosphere. In order to capture the latter effect, we add an additional term to the Greuell and Böhm (GB) thermodynamic glacier wind model. For high off-glacier temperatures, the modified GB model reduces root-mean-square error up to 32% and provides a new approach for distributing air temperature over mountain glaciers as a function of off-glacier temperatures and approximate glacier flow lines.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3139-3157
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2015


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