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Study of Annual Mass Balance (2011–2013) of Rikha Samba Glacier, Hidden Valley, Mustang, Nepal

  • Gurung, S.
  • Bhattarai, B. C.
  • Kayastha, R. B.
  • Stumn, D.
  • Joshi, S. P.
  • Mool, P. K.

Although Himalayan glaciers are of particular interest in terms of future water supplies, regional climate changes, and sea-level rises, little is known about them due to lack of reliable and consistent data. There is a need for monitoring these glaciers to bridge this knowledge gap and to provide field measurements necessary to calibrate and validate the results from different remote sensing operations. Therefore, glaciological observations have been carried out by the Cryosphere Monitoring Project (CMP) since September 2011 on Rikha Samba Glacier in Hidden valley, Mustang district in western Nepal in order to study its annual mass balance. This paper presents the first results of that study. There are 10 glaciers in Hidden Valley, named G1, G2, G3, up to G10. Of these, G5 is the Rikha Samba Glacier, which has the largest area (5.37 km2) in this valley and the highest and lowest altitudes (6,476 and 5,392 m a.s.l., respectively). The glacier mass balance discussed in this paper was calculated using the glaciological method and the equilibrium line altitude (ELA). The glacier showed a negative annual point mass balance along the longitudinal profile of its lower part from September 10, 2011 to October 3, 2012. Stake measurements from October 4, 2012 to September 30, 2013 indicated a negative areal average of annual mass balance -0.088±0.019 m w.e. for the whole glacier. Based on these observations, the ELA of the Rikha Samba Glacier is estimated at 5,800 m a.s.l. in 2013. This negative balance may be due to rising air temperatures in the region, which have been incrementally rising since 1980 accompanied by little or no significant increase in precipitation in that period. The negative mass balance confirms the general shrinking trend of the glacier.

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  • Journal:
    Sciences in Cold and Arid Regions, 8 (4)
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