Interactions between mass balance, atmospheric circulation, and recent climate change on the Djankuat Glacier, Caucasus Mountains, Russia
Shahgedanova, M., Stokes, C. R., Gurney, S. D. and Popovnin, V. (2005) Interactions between mass balance, atmospheric circulation, and recent climate change on the Djankuat Glacier, Caucasus Mountains, Russia. Journal of Geophysical Research, 110 (D4). D04108. ISSN 0148-0227
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1029/2004jd005213
This paper reports recent changes in the mass balance record from the Djankuat Glacier, central greater Caucasus, Russia, and investigates possible relationships between the components of mass balance, local climate, and distant atmospheric forcing. The results clearly show that a strong warming signal has emerged in the central greater Caucasus, particularly since the 1993/1994 mass balance year, and this has led to a significant increase in the summer ablation of Djankuat. At the same time, there has been no compensating consistent increase in winter precipitation and accumulation leading to the strong net loss of mass and increase in glacier runoff. Interannual variability in ablation and accumulation is partly associated with certain major patterns of Northern Hemisphere climatic variability. The positive phase of the North Pacific (NP) teleconnection pattern forces negative geopotential height and temperature anomalies over the Caucasus in summer and results in reduced summer melt, such as in the early 1990s, when positive NP extremes resulted in a temporary decline in ablation rates. The positive phase of the NP is related to El Nino-Southern Oscillation, and it is possible that a teleconnection between the tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures and summer air temperatures in the Caucasus is bridged through the NP pattern. More recently, the NP pattern was predominantly negative, and this distant moderating forcing on summer ablation in the Caucasus was absent. Statistically significant correlations are observed between accumulation and the Scandinavian (SCA) teleconnection pattern. The frequent occurrence of the positive SCA phase at the beginning of accumulation season results in lower than average snowfall and reduced accumulation. The relationship between the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), Arctic Oscillation, and accumulation is weak, although positive precipitation anomalies in the winter months are associated with the negative phase of the NAO. A stronger positive correlation is observed between accumulation on Djankuat and geopotential height over the Bay of Biscay unrelated to the established modes of the Northern Hemisphere climatic variability. These results imply that the mass balance of Djankuat is sensitive to the natural variability in the climate system. Distant forcing, however, explains only 16% of the variance in the ablation record and cannot fully explain the recent increase in ablation and negative mass balance.