TITLE

Modelled glacier equilibrium line altitudes during the mid-Holocene in the southern mid-latitudes

AUTHOR(S)
Bravo, C.; Rojas, M.; Anderson, B. M.; Mackintosh, A. N.; Sagredo, E.; Moreno, P. I.
PUB. DATE
March 2015
SOURCE
Climate of the Past Discussions;2015, Vol. 11 Issue 2, p603
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
Glacier behaviour during the mid-Holocene (MH, 6000 year BP) in the Southern Hemisphere provides observational data to constrain our understanding of the origin and propagation of palaeo-climatic signals. We examine the climatic forcing of glacier expansion in the MH by evaluating modelled glacier equilibrium line altitude (ELA) and climate conditions during the MH compared with pre-industrial time (PI, year 1750) in the mid latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere, specifically in Patagonia and the South Island of New Zealand. Climate conditions for the MH are obtained from PMIP2 models simulations, which in turn force a simple glacier mass balance model to simulate changes in equilibrium-line altitude during this period. Climate conditions during the MH show significantly (p ≤ 0.05) colder temperatures in summer, autumn and winter, and significantly (p ≤ 0.05) warmer temperatures in spring. These changes are a consequence of insolation differences between the two periods. Precipitation does not show significant changes, but exhibits a temporal pattern with less precipitation from August to September and more precipitation from October to April during the MH. In response to these climatic changes, glaciers in both analysed regions have an ELA that is 15-33m lower than PI during the MH. The main causes of this difference are the colder temperature during the MH, reinforcing previous results that mid-latitude glaciers are more sensitive to temperature change compared to precipitation changes. Differences in temperature have a dual effect on mass balance. First, during summer and early autumn less energy is available for melting. Second in late autumn and winter, lower temperatures cause more precipitation to fall as snow rather than rain, resulting in more accumulation and higher surface albedo. For these reasons, we postulate that the modelled ELA changes, although small, may help to explain larger glacier extents observed in the mid Holocene in both South America and New Zealand.
ACCESSION #
102491005

 

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