2021
  • Non-ICIMOD publication

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Mass balances of Yala and Rikha Samba glaciers, Nepal, from 2000 to 2017

  • Dorothea Stumm
  • Sharad Prasad Joshi
  • Tika Ram Gurung
  • Gunjan Silwal
  • Summary

We discuss mass balance data of Yala and Rikha Samba glaciers, which are based on several years of in‑situ glacier monitoring by the ICIMOD team. The paper is one of the outcomes of the Cryosphere Monitoring Programme. The work on the two glaciers is the continuation of research efforts started by Japanese scientists in the seventies.

Glaciers are a good climate indicator and are one of the essential climate variables (ECV). Mass balance measurements are an integral part of the international glacier monitoring strategy by GTN-G. The cryosphere community is encouraged to establish benchmark glaciers for monitoring and submit the data to the World Glacier Monitoring Service.

In-situ glacier monitoring and by remote sensing in combination with modelling are strong tools e.g. to calculate future melt projections. The mass balance of individual glaciers can be compared with glaciers worldwide. The in-situ mass balance provides annual glacier change information and is used as an input variable to model water availability and runoff. Remote sensing based mass balances are important as complementing methods and to assess regional glacier changes for larger time intervals.

In the paper, we present annually measured in-situ mass balances on both glaciers from 2011 to 2017, and the satellite-based mass balances from 2000 to 2012 for Yala Glacier. Both glaciers were shrinking in the last couple of decades following the general trend in the Himalayas, although Yala Glacier shrank faster.