Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 111, Issue 3–4, pp 513–528 | Cite as

Parameterisation of incoming longwave radiation over glacier surfaces in the semiarid Andes of Chile

  • Shelley MacDonellEmail author
  • Lindsey Nicholson
  • Christophe Kinnard
Original Paper


A good understanding of radiation fluxes is important for calculating energy, and hence, mass exchange at glacier surfaces. This study evaluates incoming longwave radiation measured at two nearby glacier stations in the high Andes of the Norte Chico region of Chile. These data are the first published records of atmospheric longwave radiation measurements in this region. Nine previously published optimised parameterisations for clear sky emissivity all produced results with a root mean square error (RMSE) ~20 W m−2 and bias within ±5 W m−2, which is inline with findings from other regions. Six optimised parameterisations for incoming longwave in all sky conditions were trialled for application to this site, five of which performed comparably well with RMSE on daytime data <18 W m−2 and bias within ±6 W m−2 when applied to the optimisation site and RMSE <20 W m−2 and bias within ±10 W m−2 when applied to the validation site. The parameterisation proposed by Mölg et al. (J Glaciol 55:292-302, 2009) was selected for use in this region. Incorporating the proposed elevation modification into the equation reduced the bias in the modelled incoming longwave radiation for the validation site. It was found that applying the parameterisation optimised in the original work at Kilimanjaro produced good results at both the primary and validation site in this study, suggesting that this formulation may be robust for different high mountain regions.


Root Mean Square Error Cloud Cover Shortwave Radiation Glacier Surface Convective Storm 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



SM was supported by FONDECYT Postdoctoral grant no. 3110053. We also thank the Barrick Gold Corporation for logistical support of this study as part of a glacier monitoring project in the semiarid Andes and the glaciology group at CEAZA for their help with the installation of the AWS’s. We thank two anonymous reviewers for their constructive criticism which greatly improved this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shelley MacDonell
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lindsey Nicholson
    • 2
  • Christophe Kinnard
    • 1
  1. 1.Centro de Estudios Avanzados en Zonas Áridas (CEAZA)La SerenaChile
  2. 2.Center for Climate and Cryosphere, Institute for Meteorology and GeophysicsUniversity of InnsbruckInnsbruckAustria

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