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Snow accumulation rate on Qomolangma (Mount Everest), Himalaya: synchroneity with sites across the Tibetan Plateau on 50–100 year timescales

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Annual-layer thickness data, spanning AD 1534–2001, from an ice core from East Rongbuk Col on Qomolangma (Mount Everest, Himalaya) yield an age–depth profile that deviates systematically from a constant accumulation-rate analytical model. The profile clearly shows that the mean accumulation rate has changed every 50–100 years. A numerical model was developed to determine the magnitude of these multi-decadal-scale rates. The model was used to obtain a time series of annual accumulation. The mean annual accumulation rate decreased from ∼0.8 m ice equivalent in the 1500s to ∼0.3 m in the mid-1800s. From ∼1880 to ∼1970 the rate increased. However, it has decreased since ∼1970. Comparison with six other records from the Himalaya and the Tibetan Plateau shows that the changes in accumulation in East Rongbuk Col are broadly consistent with a regional pattern over much of the Plateau. This suggests that there may be an overarching mechanism controlling precipitation and mass balance over this area. However, a record from Dasuopu, only 125 km northwest of Qomolangma and 700 m higher than East Rongbuk Col, shows a maximum in accumulation during the 1800s, a time during which the East Rongbuk Col and Tibetan Plateau ice-core and tree-ring records show a minimum. This asynchroneity may be due to altitudinal or seasonal differences in monsoon versus westerly moisture sources or complex mountain meteorology.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2008

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  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.
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