Modelling the response of glaciers to climate warming

J. Oerlemans, B. Anderson, A. Hubbard, Ph Huybrechts, T. Jóhannesson, W. H. Knap, M. Schmeits, A. P. Stroeven, R. S. W. Van De Wal, J. Wallinga, Z. Zuo

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Dynamic ice-flow models for 12 glaciers and ice caps have been forced with various climate change scenarios. The volume of this sample spans three orders of magnitude. Six climate scenarios were considered: from 1990 onwards linear warming rates of 0.01, 0.02 and 0.04 K a-1, with and without concurrent changes in precipitation. The models, calibrated against the historic record of glacier length where possible, were integrated until 2100. The differences in individual glacier responses are very large. No straightforward relationship between glacier size and fractional change of ice volume emerges for any given climate scenario. The hypsometry of individual glaciers and ice caps plays an important role in their response, thus making it difficult to generalize results. For a warming rate of 0.04 K a-1, without increase in precipitation, results indicate that few glaciers would survive until 2100. On the other hand, if the warming rate were to be limited to 0.01 K a-1 with an increase in precipitation of 10% per degree warming, we predict that overall loss would be restricted to 10 to 20% of the 1990 volume.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-274
Number of pages8
JournalClimate Dynamics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1998


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