Calculating ice melt beneath a debris layer using meteorological data

Lindsey Nicholson, Douglas I. Benn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

216 Citations (Scopus)


Generalized numerical models of sub-debris ice ablation are preferable to empirical approaches for predicting runoff and glacier response to climate change, as empirical methods are site-specific and strongly dependent upon the conditions prevailing during the measurement period. We present a modified surface energy-balance model to calculate melt beneath a surface debris layer from daily mean meteorological variables. Despite numerous simplifications, the model performs well and modelled melt rates give a good match to observed melt rates, suggesting that this model can produce reliable estimates of ablation rate beneath debris layers several decimetres thick. This is a useful improvement on previous models which are inappropriate for thick debris cover.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)463-470
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Glaciology
Publication statusPublished - 2006




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