Climate on the blanca massif, sangre de cristo mountains, colorado, usa, during the last glacial maximum

Keith A. Brugger, Eric M. Leonard, Kurt A. Refsnider, Peter Dolan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Temperature-index modeling is used to determine the magnitude of temperature depression on the Blanca Massif, Colorado, required to maintain steady-state mass balances of nine reconstructed glaciers at their extent during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). The mean temperature depression thus determined is ~8.6 +0.7/−0.9 C where the uncertainties account for those inherent in the glacier reconstructions, in model parameters (e.g., melt factors), and possible modest changes in LGM precipitation. Associated equilibrium-line altitudes (ELAs) exhibit a statistically significant directional dependency being lower toward the north and east. Under the assumption that regional temperature change was uniform, required changes in precipitation vary systematically—also exhibit-ing a directional dependency coinciding with that in ELAs—and indicate increases (over modern) occurred on the eastern side of the massif while decreases occurred on the western side. This disparity represents a strengthening of a precipitation asymmetry, particularly winter precipitation, which exists today. The modern precipitation asymmetry may be a consequence of snow being blown over to the eastern side of the massif (advective transport) by southwesterly flow. Intensification of this flow during the LGM would have enhanced advection, and augmented snow accumulation on glaciers, thus explaining the lower ELAs and increased precipitation on that side of the massif.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number27
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 30 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Blanca Massif
  • Colorado
  • Last Glacial Maximum
  • Paleoclimate
  • Paleoglacier reconstruction
  • Sangre de Cristo Mountains
  • Temperature-index model


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