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Atmosphere 2018, 9(11), 450; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos9110450

Sensitivity of Glacier Runoff to Winter Snow Thickness Investigated for Vatnajökull Ice Cap, Iceland, Using Numerical Models and Observations

1
Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Iceland, 101 Reykjavik, Iceland
2
Climate and Arctic Research, Danish Meteorological Institute, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
3
Tækniþróun Veitna, Veitur Utilities, 110 Reykjavik, Iceland
4
Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Iceland, 101 Reykjavik, Iceland
5
Landsvirkjun, National Power Company of Iceland, 108 Reykjavik, Iceland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 12 September 2018 / Revised: 31 October 2018 / Accepted: 12 November 2018 / Published: 15 November 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cryosphere in and around Regional Climate Models)
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Abstract

Several simulations of the surface climate and energy balance of Vatnajökull ice cap, Iceland, are used to estimate the glacier runoff for the period 1980–2015 and the sensitivity of runoff to the spring conditions (e.g., snow thickness). The simulations are calculated using the snow pack scheme from the regional climate model HIRHAM5, forced with incoming mass and energy fluxes from the numerical weather prediction model HARMONIE-AROME. The modeled runoff is compared to available observations from two outlet glaciers to assess the quality of the simulations. To test the sensitivity of the runoff to spring conditions, simulations are repeated for the spring conditions of each of the years 1980–2015, followed by the weather of all summers in the same period. We find that for the whole ice cap, the variability in runoff as a function of varying spring conditions was on average 31% of the variability due to changing summer weather. However, some outlet glaciers are very sensitive to the amount of snow in the spring, as e.g., the variation in runoff from Brúarjökull due to changing spring conditions was on average 50% of the variability due to varying summer weather. View Full-Text
Keywords: regional climate models; glaciers; snowfall; snow-albedo feedback; runoff sensitivity regional climate models; glaciers; snowfall; snow-albedo feedback; runoff sensitivity
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Schmidt, L.S.; Langen, P.L.; Aðalgeirsdóttir, G.; Pálsson, F.; Guðmundsson, S.; Gunnarsson, A. Sensitivity of Glacier Runoff to Winter Snow Thickness Investigated for Vatnajökull Ice Cap, Iceland, Using Numerical Models and Observations. Atmosphere 2018, 9, 450.

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