Processes Governing the Mass Balance of Chhota Shigri Glacier (Western Himalaya, India) Assessed by Point-Scale Surface Energy Balance Measurements (2014)

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Recent studies revealed that Himalayan glaciers have been shrinking at an accelerated rate since the beginning of the 21st century. However the climatic causes for this shrinkage remain unclear given that surface energy balance studies are almost nonexistent in this region. In this study, a point-scale surface energy balance analysis was performed using in-situ meteorological data from the ablation zone of Chhota Shigri Glacier over two separate periods (August 2012 to February 2013 and July to October 2013) in order to understand the response of mass balance to climate change. Energy balance numerical modeling provides quantification of the surface energy fluxes and identification of the factors affecting glacier mass balance. The computed ablation was validated by stake observations. During summer-monsoon period, net radiation was the primary component of the surface energy balance with 82% of the total heat flux which was complimented with turbulent sensible and latent heat fluxes with a share of 13% and 5%, respectively. A striking feature of energy balance is the positive turbulent latent heat flux, thus condensation or re-sublimation of moist air at the glacier surface takes place, during summer-monsoon period which is characterized by relatively high air temperature, high relative humidity and almost permanent melting surface. The impact of Indian summer monsoon on Chhota Shigri Glacier mass balance has also been assessed. This analysis demonstrates that the intensity of snowfall events during the summer-monsoon season plays a key role on surface albedo, in turn on melting, and thus is among the most important drivers controlling the annual mass balance of the glacier. Summer-monsoon air temperature, controlling the precipitation phase (rain vs. snow and thus albedo), counts, indirectly, also among the most important drivers for the glacier mass balance.
Year: 2014
Language: English
In: The Cryosphere Discussions, 8 (3): 2867-2922 p.

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 Record created 2018-08-23, last modified 2018-08-23