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Snow and Ice melt contributions in a highly glacierized catchment of Chhota Shigri Glacier (India) over the last five decades

Farooq Azam, Mohd., Wagnon, P., Vincent, C., Ramanathan, AL., Kumar, N., Srivastava, S., Pottakkal, J.G., Chevallier, P.
Journal of hydrology 2019
air temperature, altitude, glaciers, ice, melting, models, rain, runoff, snowmelt, summer, watersheds, winter, India
Glacier-wide mass balances and runoffs are reconstructed over 1969-2016 for Chhota Shigri Glacier catchment (India) applying a glacio-hydrological model. The model is forced using in-situ daily air-temperature and precipitation records from the meteorological stations at Bhuntar Observatory (1092 m a.s.l.), glacier base camp (3850 m a.s.l.) and glacier side moraine (4863 m a.s.l.). The modelled mean annual mass balance is −0.30±0.36 m w.e. a-1 (meter water equivalent per year), while the mean catchment-wide runoff is 1.56±0.23 m w.e. a-1 over 1969-2016. Three periods are distinguished in the reconstructed mass balance and runoff series. Periods I (1969−1985) and III (2001−2016) show glacier mass wastage at rates of −0.36 and −0.50 m w.e. a−1, respectively, corresponding to catchment-wide runoffs of 1.51 and 1.65 m w.e. a-1, respectively. Conversely, period II (1986−2000) exhibits steady-state conditions with average mass balances of −0.01 m w.e. a−1, and corresponding runoff of 1.52 m w.e. a-1. The reduced ice melt (0.20 m w.e. a-1) over period II, in agreement with steady-state conditions, is compensated by the increased snow melt (1.03 m w.e. a-1), providing almost similar catchment-wide runoffs for period I and II. The increased runoff after 2000 is mainly governed by increased ice melt (0.32 m w.e. a-1) over period III. Snow accumulation in winter and summer seasons together control the glacier-wide mass balances as well as catchment-wide runoffs. Snow melt contributes the maximum to the total mean annual runoff with 63% share while glacier melt and rain contribute 17% and 20% respectively over the whole period.