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DOI 10.4461/GFDQ.2016.39.9


Modelling shortwave and longwave downward radiation and air temperature driving ablation at the Forni Glacier (Stelvio National Park, Italy)

Pages 83-88


We focus here on modelling the meteorological parameters most influencing snow/ice melting over an alpine glacier. Specifically, we consider shortwave and longwave downward radiation, and air temperature. We set up and test a methodology for their accurate distribution at the glacier surface, which can be applied whenever: i) supraglacial meteorological measurements are available or ii) weather data are acquired from a station quite close to the glacier. As a suitable site to test our approach we selected the Forni Glacier, in the Italian Alps, where an Automatic Weather Station (AWS) has been running since autumn 2005 thus giving a robust dataset for developing a field based modeling approach. First, we modelled and distributed the incoming solar radiation by taking into account actual atmospheric conditions, glacier topography and shading. Then, we modelled the incoming longwave radiation considering cloud-cover and air temperature. Third, we investigated a local lapse rate to depict the yearly variability of the vertical air temperature gradient, to assess the actual thermal conditions at different elevations. Finally, we compared the modeled values against data collected on the field. The results display that during the glacier ablation period (i.e.: May-September): i) our approach provides a good depiction of both point incoming solar and infrared radiation fluxes, ii) the spatial distribution of the incoming solar radiation we developed is satisfactory, iii) our tests suggest that the incoming longwave fluxes can be considered constant over the whole glacier ablation area thus neglecting its spatial distribution, and iv) the application of a local lapse rate provides a good distribution of air temperature at the glacier surface.

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