Mass balance model






Melt model



A mass balance model has been developed that computes the short-term mass balance variations (ablation and accumulation) of ice and snow with hourly to daily resolution and simulates resulting discharge. The mass balance model is fully distributed, i.e. calculations are performed for each grid cell of a digital elevation model. Ablation can be computed either by an energy balance model or by various temperature index methods. Discharge is calculated from the water provided by melt plus liquid precipitation by three linear reservoirs corresponding to the different storage properties of firn, snow and glacier ice. Discharge simulations are optional, i.e. the mass balance model can be run independently of the discharge model. In addition, subsurface temperatures, water content and percolation can be computed by a one-dimensional multi-layer snow model that is forced by the surface energy balance. This module has been added in 2006 by Carleen Tijm-Reijmer, Utrecht University.

The model was made open source in August 2012 and is available here including a user manual and a list of references from previous applications.

Model manual

A manual describing the model and its application can be downloaded here. The latest version is from October 2013.

Key references

Temperature-index model

  • Hock, R., 1999: A distributed temperature index ice and snow melt model including potential direct solar radiation. Journal of Glaciology, 45(149), 101-111.

Energy balance model

  • Hock, R. and Ch. Noetzli, 1997: Areal mass balance and discharge modelling of Storglaci√§ren, Sweden. Annals of Glaciology, 24, 211-217.
  • Hock, R. and B. Holmgren, 2005. A distributed energy balance model for complex topography and its application to Storglaci√§ren, Sweden. Journal of Glaciology 51(172), 25-36.
  • Reijmer, C. H. and R. Hock, 2008. A distributed energy balance model including a multi-layer sub-surface snow model. Journal of Glaciology. 54, No. 184, 61-72.

The model code has been applied to a number of sites around the world. A full list of references to journal articles and student theses can be found here.


Last update: August 2012