Glaciers and Climate Project

Mass Balance Summary

Benchmark Glaciers

The Benchmark Glacier Research project measures changes in mass balance at four benchmark glaciers: Gulkana (AK), Wolverine (AK), South Cascade (WA), and Sperry (MT). The graphs below depict the period of record for mass balance measurements of which the Alaskan and Washington datasets constitute the longest continuous set of mass balance data in North America (Josberger and others, 2007). With the inclusion of Sperry Glacier in 2013, these four research sites were unified into a single project with common field and analysis methodologies to enable comparison among the glaciers. This project aims to measure each glacier's response to climate change and helps researchers understand the causes and magnitude of glacier change at a continental scale.

 Each year these glaciers go through a seasonal cycle, gaining mass in the winter and loosing mass in the summer, which combine as the annual change in mass. The blue bars represent the winter accumulation, the orange bars represent summer ablation, and the yellow bars represent the annual mass balance, expressed in meters of water equivalence.
Each year these glaciers go through a seasonal cycle, gaining mass in the winter and losing mass in the summer, which combine as the annual change in mass. The blue bars represent the winter accumulation, the orange bars represent summer ablation, and the yellow bars represent the annual mass balance, expressed in meters of water equivalence.
The cumulative mass change at each glacier. Note that each glacier is measured relative to the start of mass balance measurements at that site. At Gulkana and Wolverine Glaciers geodetic mass balances from photogrammetrically derived digital elevation models are used to constrain the time-series.
The cumulative mass change at each glacier. Note that each glacier is measured relative to the start of mass balance measurements at that site. At Gulkana and Wolverine Glaciers geodetic mass balances from photogrammetrically derived digital elevation models are used to constrain the time-series.