Surface Pond Energy Absorption Across Four Himalayan Glaciers Accounts for 1/8 of Total Catchment Ice Loss

Evan S. Miles, Ian Willis, Pascal Buri, Jakob F. Steiner, Neil S. Arnold, Francesca Pellicciotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Glaciers in High Mountain Asia, many of which exhibit surface debris, contain the largest volume of ice outside of the polar regions. Many contain supraglacial pond networks that enhance melt rates locally, but no large‐scale assessment of their impact on melt rates exists. Here we use surface energy balance modeling forced using locally measured meteorological data and monthly satellite‐derived pond distributions to estimate the total melt enhancement for the four main glaciers within the 400‐km2 Langtang catchment, Nepal, for a 6‐month period in 2014. Ponds account for 0.20 ± 0.03 m/year of surface melt, representing a local melt enhancement of a factor of 14 ± 3 compared with the debris‐covered area, and equivalent to 12.5 ± 2.0% of total catchment ice loss. Given the prevalence of supraglacial ponds across the region, our results suggest that effective incorporation of melt enhancement by ponds is essential for accurate predictions of future mass balance change in the region.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10,464-10,473
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume45
Issue number19
Early online date7 Oct 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2018

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