Incorporating moisture content in surface energy balance modeling of a debris-covered glacier

Giese, Alexandra ; Boone, Aaron ; Wagnon, Patrick ; Hawley, Robert

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Few surface energy balance models for debris-covered glaciers account for the presence of moisture in the debris, which invariably affects the debris layer's thermal properties and, in turn, the surface energy balance and sub-debris melt of a debris-covered glacier. We adapted the interactions between soil, biosphere, and atmosphere (ISBA) land surface model within the SURFace EXternalisée (SURFEX) platform to represent glacier debris rather than soil (referred to hereafter as ISBA-DEB). The new ISBA-DEB model includes the varying content, transport, and state of moisture in debris with depth and through time. It robustly simulates not only the thermal evolution of the glacier-debris-snow column but also moisture transport and phase changes within the debris - and how these, in turn, affect conductive and latent heat fluxes. We discuss the key developments in the adapted ISBA-DEB and demonstrate the capabilities of the model, including how the time- and depth-varying thermal conductivity and specific heat capacity depend on evolving temperature and moisture. Sensitivity tests emphasize the importance of accurately constraining the roughness lengths and surface slope. Emissivity, in comparison to other tested parameters, has less of an effect on melt. ISBA-DEB builds on existing work to represent the energy balance of a supraglacial debris layer through time in its novel application of a land surface model to debris-covered glaciers. Comparison of measured and simulated debris temperatures suggests that ISBA-DEB includes some - but not all - processes relevant to melt under highly permeable debris. Future work, informed by further observations, should explore the importance of advection and vapor transfer in the energy balance.</p>

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