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Volume 10, issue 4
The Cryosphere, 10, 1845-1858, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-10-1845-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
The Cryosphere, 10, 1845-1858, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-10-1845-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 22 Aug 2016

Research article | 22 Aug 2016

Reduced melt on debris-covered glaciers: investigations from Changri Nup Glacier, Nepal

Christian Vincent1, Patrick Wagnon2,3, Joseph M. Shea3, Walter W. Immerzeel4,3, Philip Kraaijenbrink4, Dibas Shrestha5, Alvaro Soruco6, Yves Arnaud2, Fanny Brun2,7, Etienne Berthier7, and Sonam Futi Sherpa3,8 Christian Vincent et al.
  • 1UJF-Grenoble 1, CNRS, Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Géophysique de l'Environnement (LGGE), Grenoble, France
  • 2IRD/UJF-Grenoble1, Laboratoire d'étude des Transferts en Hydrologie et Environnement (LTHE), Grenoble, France
  • 3International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • 4Department of Physical Geography, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 5Nepal Academy of Science and Technology, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • 6UMSA, IGEMA, La Paz, Bolivia
  • 7LEGOS, CNRS, Université de Toulouse, Toulouse, France
  • 8Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, School of Science, Kathmandu University, Dulikhel, Nepal

Abstract. Approximately 25% of the glacierized area in the Everest region is covered by debris, yet the surface mass balance of debris-covered portions of these glaciers has not been measured directly. In this study, ground-based measurements of surface elevation and ice depth are combined with terrestrial photogrammetry, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and satellite elevation models to derive the surface mass balance of the debris-covered tongue of Changri Nup Glacier, located in the Everest region. Over the debris-covered tongue, the mean elevation change between 2011 and 2015 is −0.93myear−1 or −0.84m water equivalent per year (w.e.a−1). The mean emergence velocity over this region, estimated from the total ice flux through a cross section immediately above the debris-covered zone, is +0.37mw.e.a−1. The debris-covered portion of the glacier thus has an area-averaged mass balance of −1.21±0.2mw.e.a−1 between 5240 and 5525mabovesealevel (ma.s.l.). Surface mass balances observed on nearby debris-free glaciers suggest that the ablation is strongly reduced (by ca. 1.8mw.e.a−1) by the debris cover. The insulating effect of the debris cover has a larger effect on total mass loss than the enhanced ice ablation due to supraglacial ponds and exposed ice cliffs. This finding contradicts earlier geodetic studies and should be considered for modelling the future evolution of debris-covered glaciers.

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Approximately 25 % of the glacierized area in the Everest region is covered by debris, yet the surface mass balance of these glaciers has not been measured directly. From terrestrial photogrammetry and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) methods, this study shows that the ablation is strongly reduced by the debris cover. The insulating effect of the debris cover has a larger effect on total mass loss than the enhanced ice ablation due to supraglacial ponds and exposed ice cliffs.
Approximately 25 % of the glacierized area in the Everest region is covered by debris, yet the...
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