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Jan 06, 2016
The glacial budget or net balance
Humid & coldInputsThe glacial system showing inputs, stores, transfers & outputs
AblationThe process of wastage of snow or ice by melting, sublimation and calvingAblation on Glacier de Tsanfleuron, Switzerland causing water to run off the glacier margin. Photo J. Alean.
Ablation area/zoneThat part of a glaciers surface, usually at lower elevations, over which ablationexceeds accumulation. Ablation area of Glrnischgletscher, a small mountain glacier in northeastern Switzerland.
Glacier tableA boulder perched on a pedestal of ice. The boulder protects the ice from ablation during sunny weather. Around the boulder the ice surface ablates and, therefore, is lowered, whereas the boulder remains at the original level. While the pedestal becomes higher and higher in relation to the glacier surface, the sun shines further under the boulder from the south (in the northern hemisphere). Consequently the pedestal gets ablated on its southern side, and the boulder will eventually fall off the pedestal, usually on its southern side (in the northern hemisphere). After this a new cycle of table growth and destruction may begin. Glacier table on Vadret Pers, Grisons, Switzerland.
AccumulationThe process of building-up of a pack of snow, refrozen slush, meltwater and firn. Net accumulation for one year is the material left over at the end of the melt-season. Measuring the previous years snow accumulation on Colle Gnifetti on Monte Rosa, Switzerland.
Accumulation areaThat part of a glaciers surface, usually at higher elevations, on which there is net accumulation of snow, which subsequently turns into firn and then glacier ice. Accumulation area of Glrnischgletscher, a small mountain glacier in NE Switzerland.
Equilibrium line/zone The line or zone on a glaciers surface where a years ablation balances a years accumulation (cf. Firn line). It is determined at the end of the ablation season, and commonly occurs at the boundary between superimposed ice (q.v.) and glacier ice. The arrow in this photo actually points out the firn line. However, as the photo was taken near the end of the ablation season, the firn line more-or-less coincides with the equilibrium line.
CalvingThe process of detachment of icebergs and smaller blocks of ice from a glacier into water.Calving event at Hubbard Glacier, Alaska.
Mass balance (or mass budget) A year-by-year measure of the state of health of a glacier, reflecting the balance between accumulation and ablation. A glacier with a positive mass balance in a particular year gained more mass through accumulation than was lost through ablation; the reverse is true for negative mass balance. Mass balance investigations on White Glacier, Axel Heiberg Island. Photo J. Alean, 1976.
Glacier advance The forward movement of the snout (toe) of a glacier following successive years of positive mass balanceCrusoe Glacier, Axel Heiberg Island, has a steep front, typical of advancing glaciers. Photo J. Aleaan, 1977.
Glacier recession The shrinking of the snout (toe) of a glacier following successive years of negative mass balance (q.v.). This is usually evident from the recession of the ice margin on land, or calving in the sea, but also from down-wasting. Also referred to by the term glacier retreat. Extremely rapid recession of Triftgletscher, Bernese Alps, Switzerland. Left: 2002, right 2003. Recession is accelerated by calving in the proglacial lake.
Glacier terminus Lowest end of a glacierTerminus of Bergsetbreen, western Norway
Snout The lower part of the ablation area of a valley glacier, commonly shaped like the snout of an animal. In North America, the term toe is more widely used. Snout of Bergsetbreen, Jostedalen, Norway