Changes of the equilibrium-line altitude since the Little Ice Age in the Nepalese Himalaya
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
Publication date: June 1, 2008
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