A long-term dataset of climatic mass balance, snow conditions, and runoff in Svalbard (1957–2018)

van Pelt, Ward; Pohjola, Veijo; Pettersson, Rickard; Marchenko, Sergey; Kohler, Jack; Luks, Bartłomiej; Hagen, Jon Ove; Schuler, Thomas V.; Dunse, Thorben; Noël, Brice; Reijmer, Carleen

The climate in Svalbard is undergoing amplified change compared to the global mean. This has major implications for runoff from glaciers and seasonal snow on land. We use a coupled energy balance–subsurface model, forced with downscaled regional climate model fields, and apply it to both glacier-covered and land areas in Svalbard. This generates a long-term (1957–2018) distributed dataset of climatic mass balance (CMB) for the glaciers, snow conditions, and runoff with a inline-formula1 km×1 km spatial and 3-hourly temporal resolution. Observational data including stake measurements, automatic weather station data, and subsurface data across Svalbard are used for model calibration and validation. We find a weakly positive mean net CMB (inline-formula+0.09 m w.e. ainline-formula−1) over the simulation period, which only fractionally compensates for mass loss through calving. Pronounced warming and a small precipitation increase lead to a spatial-mean negative net CMB trend (inline-formula−0.06 m w.e. ainline-formula−1 decadeinline-formula−1), and an increase in the equilibrium line altitude (ELA) by 17 m decadeinline-formula−1, with the largest changes in southern and central Svalbard. The retreating ELA in turn causes firn air volume to decrease by 4 % decadeinline-formula−1, which in combination with winter warming induces a substantial reduction of refreezing in both glacier-covered and land areas (average inline-formula−4 % decadeinline-formula−1). A combination of increased melt and reduced refreezing causes glacier runoff (average 34.3 Gt ainline-formula−1) to double over the simulation period, while discharge from land (average 10.6 Gt ainline-formula−1) remains nearly unchanged. As a result, the relative contribution of land runoff to total runoff drops from 30 % to 20 % during 1957–2018. Seasonal snow on land and in glacier ablation zones is found to arrive later in autumn (inline-formula+1.4 d decadeinline-formula−1), while no significant changes occurred on the date of snow disappearance in spring–summer. Altogether, the output of the simulation provides an extensive dataset that may be of use in a wide range of applications ranging from runoff modelling to ecosystem studies.



van Pelt, Ward / Pohjola, Veijo / Pettersson, Rickard / et al: A long-term dataset of climatic mass balance, snow conditions, and runoff in Svalbard (1957–2018). 2019. Copernicus Publications.


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