Seasonal snowline instability in an energy balance model Academic Article uri icon


  • The stability properties of a seasonal, one dimensional energy balance climate model are examined. The model contains idealized landsea geography, an interactive moving snowline and high space-time resolution. For a polar land cap surrounded by ocean we find a bifurcation in the seasonal cycle solutions as a function of solar constant leading to qualitatively different climate regimes: one with continental snow-free summers and the other with perennial snow cover over a large area surrounding the pole. In the parameterspace neighborhood of a bifurcation an infinitesimal change in any radiation budget parameter can cause the transition from one state to the other. Of special interest to those planning more elaborate numerical experiments (GCMs) is the result that 10s of seasonal cycles may be necessary for the model to damp out transient effects before settling upon a repeating seasonal cycle if parameter values are such that the solution is near a bifurcation. This latter finding is unexpected, since the longest time scale in the linear version of the energy balance model is about 5 years. 1988, Springer-Verlag. All rights reserved.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Mengel, J. G., Short, D. A., & North, G. R.

citation count

  • 37

complete list of authors

  • Mengel, JG||Short, DA||North, GR

publication date

  • February 1988