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Volume 22, issue 4 | Copyright
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 22, 2211-2224, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Technical note 09 Apr 2018

Technical note | 09 Apr 2018

Technical note: Representing glacier geometry changes in a semi-distributed hydrological model

Jan Seibert1,2, Marc J. P. Vis1, Irene Kohn3, Markus Weiler3, and Kerstin Stahl3 Jan Seibert et al.
  • 1Department of Geography, University of Zurich, Zurich, 8057, Switzerland
  • 2Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden
  • 3Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Freiburg, 79098 Freiburg, Germany

Abstract. Glaciers play an important role in high-mountain hydrology. While changing glacier areas are considered of highest importance for the understanding of future changes in runoff, glaciers are often only poorly represented in hydrological models. Most importantly, the direct coupling between the simulated glacier mass balances and changing glacier areas needs feasible solutions. The use of a complex glacier model is often not possible due to data and computational limitations. The Δh parameterization is a simple approach to consider the spatial variation of glacier thickness and area changes. Here, we describe a conceptual implementation of the Δh parameterization in the semi-distributed hydrological model HBV-light, which also allows for the representation of glacier advance phases and for comparison between the different versions of the implementation. The coupled glacio-hydrological simulation approach, which could also be implemented in many other semi-distributed hydrological models, is illustrated based on an example application.

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Short summary
In many glacio-hydrological models glacier areas are assumed to be constant over time, which is a crucial limitation. Here we describe a novel approach to translate mass balances as simulated by the (glacio)hydrological model into glacier area changes. We combined the Δh approach of Huss et al. (2010) with the bucket-type model HBV and introduced a lookup table approach, which also allows periods with advancing glaciers to be represented, which is not possible with the original Huss method.
In many glacio-hydrological models glacier areas are assumed to be constant over time, which is...