Enter the product of accumulation and the total ablation into the Calculator. The calculator will evaluate the Glacier Mass Balance. 

Glacier Mass Balance Formula

MB = c + a


  • MB is the Glacier Mass Balance ()
  • c is the product of accumulation
  • a is the total ablation

To calculate Glacier Mass Balance, sum the product of accumulation and the total ablation.

How to Calculate Glacier Mass Balance?

The following steps outline how to calculate the Glacier Mass Balance.

  1. First, determine the product of accumulation. 
  2. Next, determine the total ablation. 
  3. Next, gather the formula from above = MB = c + a.
  4. Finally, calculate the Glacier Mass Balance.
  5. After inserting the variables and calculating the result, check your answer with the calculator above.

Example Problem : 

Use the following variables as an example problem to test your knowledge.

product of accumulation = 3000

total ablation = 2000

Frequently Asked Questions

What is glacier mass balance and why is it important?

Glacier mass balance refers to the difference between the amount of snow and ice accumulation and the amount of ablation (melting and sublimation) over a year. It’s a crucial indicator of a glacier’s health and its response to climate change, affecting sea levels and freshwater resources.

How does climate change affect glacier mass balance?

Climate change can lead to higher temperatures and changes in precipitation patterns, both of which can negatively impact the glacier mass balance. Increased temperatures often result in higher rates of ablation, while changes in precipitation can reduce snowfall accumulation, both contributing to glacier retreat.

Can glacier mass balance be positive?

Yes, a glacier’s mass balance can be positive in years where accumulation exceeds ablation. This leads to glacier growth. However, in recent decades, many glaciers globally have experienced negative mass balances due to climate change, leading to overall glacier retreat.

How is glacier mass balance measured in the field?

Glacier mass balance is typically measured through a combination of direct field observations of snow and ice accumulation and ablation, remote sensing techniques, and modeling. Field methods include using stakes and pits to measure snow depth and density, which are then used to calculate changes in mass balance over time.