Modeling Past and Future Surface Mass Balance of the Patagonian Icefields

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Marius Schaefer, Austral University of Chile, Puerto Montt, Chile, Gino Casassa Sr., University of Magallanes, Punta Arenas, Chile, Horst Machguth, Technological University of Denmark, Arctic Technology Centre, Lyngby, Denmark and Mark Falvey, University of Chile, Santiago, Chile
We present surface mass balance simulations of the Patagonian Icefield that were driven by global climate data (reanalysis/GCM) which were downscaled using the regional climate model Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) and statistical downscaling methods. The special climatic situation in the region with sharp climate gradients introduced by the blocking of the westerlies by the high peaks of the Icefield are reproduced by downscaled climatic data. The mass balance simulations were validated and interpreted using geodetic mass balances, measured point balances and a complete velocity field of the Southern Patagonia Icefield (SPI) from spring 2004. The high measured accumulation of snow as well as the high measured ablation values are reproduced by the model. Subtracting the modeled surface mass balance from the geodetic balances, calving fluxes of major outlet glaciers were inferred. Good agreement with calving fluxes estimated from velocity data was obtained in many cases however on several glaciers the inferred calving fluxes seem to overestimate the measured calving fluxes. The measured calving fluxes exhibit large uncertainties due to mostly unknown ice thickness data and evolution of glacier velocities through time. The accumulation of snow and its redistribution due to wind drift present the mayor uncertainties in the modeled surface mass balance. Assuming no substantial changes in ice flow, the surface mass balance model driven by ECHAM5 data in the A1B scenario predicts a contribution of the Patagonian Icefields to sea-level rise in the 21st century of 7.3 mm.