Research Topics

    Exchange Processes over Glaciers

    Exchange Processes over Glaciers

    While the large-scale climate conditions play an important role in shaping the en- vironment in which glaciers exist, the mass and energy balance of each individual glacier is dictated by local conditions. Given the complex mountain topography around alpine glaciers, it is not trivial to find a direct link between the large-scale atmospheric motions and the local-scale weather conditions at an individual glacier, or even at a given point on the glacier. To understand this link we need a profound knowledge of the mutual interaction of atmospheric dynamics and thermodynamic processes.

    Snow Cover Dynamics

    Snow Cover Dynamics

    Distributed alpine glacier models usually require high-resolution climate forcing to adequately represent ablation and accumulation processes. An unresolved issue in distributed mass balance modelling is the simulation of snow cover dynamics with impacts not only on the accumulation but, through the strong effect on spatio-temporal albedo evolution, also on the ablation. With this in mind, I have focused my research activities on the snow cover dynamics on mountain glaciers and ice caps through a combination of measurements and high-resolution modelling of precipitation, wind fields and transport, snow density and albedo changes, and surface energy balance in a way that satisfies the multi-scale nature of the problem.

    The Precipitation Issue

    Resolving the scale-discrepancy of precipitation in complex terrain has proven to be critical for mass-balance studies. Bridging the scale gap requires appropriate assumptions about the spatial and temporal distribution of precipitation, and the pertinent question is, what assumptions are appropriate given the nature of the specific problem addressed?

    The Lack of Certainty

    State-of-the-art numerical snowpack models essentially rely on observational data for initialization, forcing, parametrization and validation. Depending on their complexity, even small errors can have a profound effect on simulations, which dilutes our confidence in the results. A recently performed study clearly demonstrates that even conservatively estimated input uncertainties can lead to a significant loss of confidence in key simulation results concerning the surface energy and mass budget.

    Research Interests

    Research Interests

    My research is focused on developing more sophisticated process understanding of the Earth’s climate system, specifically exchange processes in glaciated environments and snow cover dynamics on mountain glaciers and ice caps. These interests span disciplines between glaciological, atmospheric, and hydrological sciences and encompass a wide range of temporal and spatial scales. I focus on relevant processes that take place at the glacier-atmosphere interface, and use in-situ measurements and different numerical and theoretical model approaches to explore these processes.

    Intermittent downburst events leading to a considerable heat transport from the free atmosphere to the glacier surface

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