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Importance of longwave emissions from adjacent terrain on patterns of tropical glacier melt and recession



Tropical glaciers constitute an important source of water for downstream populations. However, our understanding of glacial melt processes is still limited. One observed process that has not yet been quantified for tropical glaciers is the enhanced melt caused by the longwave emission transfer. Here, we use high-resolution surface temperatures obtained from the thermal infrared imagery of the Cuchillacocha Glacier, in the Cordillera Blanca, Peru in June 2014 to calculate a margin longwave flux. This longwave flux, reaching the glacier margin from the adjacent exposed rock, varies between 81 and 120 W m−2 daily. This flux is incorporated into a physically-based melt model to assess the net radiation budget at the modeled glacier margin. The simulation results show an increase in the energy available for melt by an average of 106 W m−2 during the day when compared with the simulation where the LW margin flux is not accounted for. This value represents an increase in ablation of ~1.7 m at the glacier margin for the duration of the dry season. This study suggests that including the quantification of the glacier margin longwave flux in physically-based melt models results in an improved assessment of tropical glacier energy budget and meltwater generation.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Correspondence: Caroline Aubry-Wake <>


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Importance of longwave emissions from adjacent terrain on patterns of tropical glacier melt and recession



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