The AGU 1992 Fall Meeting in San Francisco offered the full range of subjects represented by the Hydrology Section's technical committees. The total number of papers was double the number of just 4 years ago. Sessions were well attended. The following highlights were prepared from material written by session organizers.
There were 3 full days of papers on snow, ice, and permafrost. One highlight was the special session on new developments in glacier mass-balance studies, which was organized to compare existing methods and examine new techniques for assessing changes in ice mass of the polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers. Current methods for assessing mass change of the ice sheets include satellite laser altimetry to detect surface-elevation changes, surface-based control volume methods to determine net ice flux in a region, and ice-shelf melting and iceberg calving to determine mass loss from the ice sheet. Using these techniques, it is difficult to tell whether the ice sheet is gaining or losing mass. Methods that use drainage basin inputs/outputs indicate a net mass increase, whereas methods that emphasize oceanographic estimates of ice-shelf melting suggest a net mass decrease and estimates based on satellite altimetry are equivocal.