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Changes of the equilibrium-line altitude since the Little Ice Age in the Nepalese Himalaya

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Abstract:

Changes of the equilibrium-line altitude (ELA) since the end of the Little Ice Age (LIA) in eastern Nepal have been studied using glacier inventory data. The toe-to-headwall altitude ratios (THARs) for individual glaciers were calculated for 1992, and used to estimate the ELA in 1959 and at the end of the LIA. THAR for debris-free glaciers is found to be smaller than for debris-covered glaciers. The ELAs for debris-covered glaciers are higher than those for debris-free glaciers in eastern Nepal. There is considerable variation in the reconstructed change in ELA (ΔELA) between glaciers within specific regions and between regions. This is not related to climate gradients, but results from differences in glacier aspect: southeast- and south-facing glaciers show larger ΔELAs in eastern Nepal than north- or west-facing glaciers. The data suggest that the rate of ELA rise may have accelerated in the last few decades. The limited number of climate records from Nepal, and analyses using a simple ELA–climate model, suggest that the higher rate of the ΔELA between 1959 and 1992 is a result of increased warming that occurred after the 1970s at higher altitudes in Nepal.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3189/172756408784700581

Publication date: June 1, 2008

More about this publication?
  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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