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Created 6 June 2017Last modified 6 June 2017Contributed by GCW GlossaryPermalink:n2t.net/ark:/99152/h3718 | |

Definition: | Area scaling A method of relating glacier volume or volume changes to glacier area or area changes, based on a tendency for glacier thickness to be well correlated (to 'scale') with glacier area. Glacier volume V is the product of area S and mean thickness H. Measured mean thicknesses are well described by a relation of the form H c S1, which is the basis for the volume-area relation V c S . Here c and are parameters estimated from samples of glaciers with measured thicknesses. There is good evidence, as shown by Bahr et al. (1997), that estimates of from observations are nearly consistent with theoretical expectation. Mean thickness is also sometimes estimated as a function of average surface slope and basal shear stress. Volumearea scaling is both a way of estimating regional and global glacier volumes from abundant data on glacier area, and a possible way of estimating (with large random uncertainty) the volume balance of single glaciers from successive measurements of area S1 and S2, for example as2 1 ()2(2V c S S . It can also be used, as a practical alternative to ice-flow modelling, to estimate glacier area changes in attempts to model the response of glaciers to climatic change. Glacier volume is also expected, and found, to scale with glacier length, particularly when the length is that of a flowline. IHPGlacierMassBalance
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