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Glacier meltwater and runoff modelling, Keqicar Baqi glacier,southwestern Tien Shan, China

  • Yong Zhang (a1), Shiyin Liu (a1) (a2) and Yongjian Ding (a1)


Meltwater and runoff from Keqicar Baqi glacier, a large glacier in the southwestern Tien Shan, northwestern China, are simulated using a modified degree-day model including potential clear- sky direct solar radiation, coupled with a linear reservoir model for the period 1 July to 12 September 2003. There is good agreement between modelled and measured meltwater at ablation stakes and between simulated and observed runoff at the glacier terminus. A reconstruction of glacier meltwater and runoff from an assumed debris-free surface during the study period shows that the effect of the debris layer on glacier meltwater generation crucially affects glacier runoff. The model is also used to calculate glacier runoff given the climate scenario resulting from a doubling of CO2 as projected by the ReCM2 regional climate model. The projected changes in temperature and precipitation vary from 0 to 2.7°C and from 0 to 25%, respectively. Results indicate that glacier runoff increases linearly with temperature over these ranges whether or not the debris layer is taken into consideration. The effect of change in temperature is much more noticeable than that for change in precipitation. Due to the debris layer predominantly covering (and insulating) the ablation area, the response of glacier runoff is less sensitive to temperature increase with a debris-covered surface than with a debris-free surface. Glacier runoff is also markedly reduced when a reduced glacier area is prescribed in the +2.7°C scenario.

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