The authors propose a model of glacial mass balance based on correlations with meteorological observations and data from climate re-analysis. The minimum input data required include the following: average monthly temperature on the glacier and in its vicinity during summertime for a reference time period, average monthly air temperature, and average precipitation total at the nearest weather station or from re-analysis. This model was used to hindcast the mass balance and its components at Werenskioldbreen (southern Svalbard) over the period 1912–2005. The hindcast specific mass balance was then used to estimate the change in the thickness of the snout of Werenskioldbreen over the period 1958–1990. These results were compared with results obtained using a cartographic method. Comparing the topographic maps, the glacier front lowered 28.7 m on average over 32 years. The average difference in the calculation of the change in glacier thickness between these two methods amounted to 3.7 m (based on meteorological data) and 0.2 m (using ERA-40). The discrepancy of less than 13% confirmed that the method is a reasonably accurate way of predicting past glacier mass balance. The proposed method can find a broad application in hindcasting the mass balances of small Svalbard glaciers where observation data are scarce or nonexistent.
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