SUB-DEBRIS MELT RATES ON SOUTHERN INYLCHEK GLACIER, CENTRAL TIAN SHAN

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Abstract:

ABSTRACT.

Melt rates of glacier surfaces are strongly influenced by the existence of a debris cover. Dependent on thickness and other physical parameters, the debris layer can enhance or reduce ablation as compared to bare ice conditions. Supraglacial moraines appear very frequently on Central Asian glaciers, greatly affecting water yield from these high mountain regions. In summer 2005, a network of 22 ablation stakes was drilled into locations with varying debris thicknesses on southern Inylchek Glacier in the central Tian Shan. Mean ablation rates varied from 2.8 to 6.7 cm/day, strongly correlated with moraine thickness. Parallel observation of air temperature allowed the application of a simple degree-day approach and the calculation of ablation rates. Efforts to improve calculations of melt rates by incorporating relative air humidity to account for latent heat fluxes failed. This proves that air temperature is already a very good melt indicator. Ice albedo measurements show that reflectivity might be controlled by the occurrence of evaporation or condensation, but this topic needs further investigation.

Keywords: Inylcheck; Tian Shan; ablation; debris cover; glacier melt

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0459.2008.00333.x

Affiliations: 1: Department of Geography, University of Munich, Germany 2: Commission for Glaciology, Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Munich, Germany 3: Institute for Meteorology and Geophysics, University of Innsbruck, Austria 4: GeoForschungs Zentrum Potsdam, Germany

Publication date: March 1, 2008

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