Bayesian parameter estimation in glacier mass-balance modelling using observations with distinct temporal resolutions and uncertainties
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionJournal of Glaciology. 2023, . 10.1017/jog.2023.62
Empirical glacier mass-balance models are commonly used in assessments of glacier and runoff evolution. Recent satellite-borne geodetic mass-balance observations of global coverage facilitate large-scale model calibration that previously relied on sparse in situ observations of glacier mass change. Geodetic observations constitute temporally aggregated mass-balance signals with significant uncertainty, raising questions about the role of observations with different temporal resolutions and uncertainties in constraining model parameters. We employ a Bayesian approach and demonstrate the sensitivity of parameter values to commonly used mass-balance observations of seasonal, annual and decadal resolution with uncertainties characteristic to in situ and satellite-borne observations. For glaciers along a continentality gradient in Norway, the use of annual mass balances results in around 20% lower magnitude of modelled ablation and accumulation (1960–2020), compared to employing seasonal balances. Decadal mass balance also underestimates magnitudes of ablation and accumulation, but parameter values are strongly influenced by the prior distribution. The datasets yield similar estimates of annual mass balance with different margins of uncertainty. Decadal observations are afflicted with considerable uncertainty in mass-balance sensitivity due to high parameter uncertainty. Our results highlight the importance of seasonal observations when model applications require accurate magnitudes of ablation, e.g. to estimate meltwater runoff.