Supraglacial ponds regulate runoff from Himalayan debris-covered glaciers

IRVINE-FYNN, Tristram D. L., PORTER, Philip R., ROWAN, Ann V., QUINCEY, Duncan J., GIBSON, Morgan J., BRIDGE, Jonathan, WATSON, C. Scott, HUBBARD, Alun and GLASSER, Neil F. (2017). Supraglacial ponds regulate runoff from Himalayan debris-covered glaciers. Geophysical Research Letters, 44 (23), 11,894-11,904.

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Meltwater and runoff from glaciers in High Mountain Asia is a vital freshwater resource for one fifth of the Earth's population. Between 13% and 36% of the region's glacierized areas exhibit surface debris cover and associated supraglacial ponds whose hydrological buffering roles remain unconstrained. We present a high-resolution meltwater hydrograph from the extensively debris-covered Khumbu Glacier, Nepal, spanning a seven-month period in 2014. Supraglacial ponds and accompanying debris cover modulate proglacial discharge by acting as transient and evolving reservoirs. Diurnally, the supraglacial pond system may store >23% of observed mean daily discharge, with mean recession constants ranging from 31 to 108 hours. Given projections of increased debris-cover and supraglacial pond extent across High Mountain Asia, we conclude that runoff regimes may become progressively buffered by the presence of supraglacial reservoirs. Incorporation of these processes is critical to improve predictions of the region's freshwater resource availability and cascading environmental effects downstream.

Item Type: Article
Departments - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities > Department of Natural and Build Environment
Identification Number:
Page Range: 11,894-11,904
Depositing User: Jonathan Bridge
Date Deposited: 11 Dec 2017 16:05
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 07:22

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