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Advances in Meteorology
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 6581537, 15 pages
Research Article

Surface Air Temperature Fluctuations and Lapse Rates on Olivares Gamma Glacier, Rio Olivares Basin, Central Chile, from a Novel Meteorological Sensor Network

1School of Geography, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, UK
2Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center, Bergen, Norway
3Antarctic and Sub-Antarctic Program, Universidad de Magallanes, Punta Arenas, Chile
4Faculty of Engineering and Science, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Sogndal, Norway

Correspondence should be addressed to Sebastian H. Mernild; on.csren@dlinrem.naitsabes

Received 2 March 2017; Accepted 8 June 2017; Published 18 July 2017

Academic Editor: Stefania Bonafoni

Copyright © 2017 Edward Hanna et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Empirically based studies of glacier meteorology, especially for the Southern Hemisphere, are relatively sparse in the literature. Here, we use an innovative network of highly portable, low-cost thermometers to report on high-frequency (1-min time resolution) surface air temperature fluctuations and lapse rates (LR) in a ~800-m elevational range (from 3,675 to 4,492 m a.s.l.) across the glacier Olivares Gamma in the central Andes, Chile. Temperatures were measured during an intense field campaign in late Southern summer, 19–27 March 2015, under varying weather conditions. We found a complex dependence of high-frequency LR on time of day, topography, and wider meteorological conditions, with hourly temperature variations during this week that were probably mainly associated with short- and long-wave radiation changes and not with wind speed/direction changes. Using various pairs of sites within our station network, we also analyze spatial variations in LR. Uniquely in this study, we compare temperatures measured at heights of 1-m and 2-m above the glacier surface for the network of five sites and found that temperatures at these two heights occasionally differed by more than ±4°C during the early afternoons, although the mean temperature difference is much smaller (~0.3°C). An implication of our results is that daily, hourly, or even monthly averaged LR may be insufficient for feeding into accurate melt models of glacier change, with the adoption of subhourly (ideally 1–10-min) resolution LR likely to prove fruitful in developing new innovative high-time-resolution melt modelling. Our results are potentially useful as input LR for local glacier melt models and for improving the understanding of lapse rate fluctuations and glacier response to climate change.