Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Stagnation and mass loss on a Himalayan debris-covered glacier: processes, patterns and rates

  • SARAH THOMPSON (a1), DOUGLAS I. BENN (a1) (a2), JORDAN MERTES (a1) (a3) and ADRIAN LUCKMAN (a1) (a4)
Abstract
ABSTRACT

The ablation areas of debris-covered glaciers typically consist of a complex mosaic of surface features with contrasting processes and rates of mass loss. This greatly complicates glacier response to climate change, and increases the uncertainty of predictive models. In this paper we present a series of high-resolution DEMs and repeat lake bathymetric surveys on Ngozumpa Glacier, Nepal, to study processes and patterns of mass loss on a Himalayan debris-covered glacier in unprecedented detail. Most mass loss occurs by melt below supraglacial debris, and melt and calving of ice cliffs (backwasting). Although ice cliffs cover only ~5% of the area of the lower tongue, they account for 40% of the ablation. The surface debris layer is subject to frequent re-distribution by slope processes, resulting in large spatial and temporal differences in debris-layer thickness, enhancing or inhibiting local ablation rates and encouraging continuous topographic inversion. A moraine-dammed lake on the lower glacier tongue (Spillway Lake) underwent a period of rapid expansion from 2001 to 2009, but later experienced a reduction of area and volume as a result of lake level lowering and sediment redistribution. Rapid lake growth will likely resume in the near future, and may eventually become up to 7 km long.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Stagnation and mass loss on a Himalayan debris-covered glacier: processes, patterns and rates
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Stagnation and mass loss on a Himalayan debris-covered glacier: processes, patterns and rates
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Stagnation and mass loss on a Himalayan debris-covered glacier: processes, patterns and rates
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
Correspondence: Sarah Thompson <sarah.thompson@unis.no>
References
Hide All
Barrand NE, James TD and Murray T (2010) Spatiotemporal variability in elevation changes of two high-Arctic valley glaciers. J. Glaciol., 56(199), 771780 (doi: 10.3189/002214310794457362)
Benn DI and Lehmkuhl F (2000) Mass balance and equilibrium-line altitudes of glaciers in high mountain environments. Quatern. Int., 65/66, 1529 (doi: 10.1016/S1040-6182(99)00034-8)
Benn DI, Wiseman S and Hands KA (2001) Growth and drainage of supraglacial lakes on the debris-mantled Ngozumpa Glacier, Khumbu Himal, Nepal. J. Glaciol., 47, 626638 (doi: 10.3189/172756501781831729)
Benn DI, Warren CR and Mottram RH (2007) Calving processes and the dynamics of calving glaciers, Earth-Sci. Rev., 82, 143179 (doi: 10.1016/j.earscirev.2007.02.002)
Benn DI and 9 others (2012) Response of debris-covered glaciers in the Mount Everest region to recent warming, and implications for outburst flood hazards. Earth-Sci. Rev., 114, 156174 (doi: 10.1016/j.earscirev.2012.03.008)
Berthier E, Arnaud Y, Baratoux D, Vincnet C and Rémy F (2004) Recent rapid thinning of the ‘Mer de Glace’ glacier derived from satellite optical images, Geophys. Res. Let., 31, L17401 (doi: 10.1029/2004GL020706)
Berthier E and 5 others (2007) Remote sensing estimates of glacier mass balances in the Himachal Pradesh (Western Himalaya, India). Remote Sens. Environ., 108(3), 327338 (doi: 10.1016/j.rse.2006.11.017)
Bolch T, Buchroithner MF, Pieczonka T and Kunert A (2008) Planimetric and volumetric glacier changes in Khumbu Himalaya since 1962 using Corona, Landsat TM and ASTER data. J. Glaciol., 54, 592600 (doi: 10.3189/002214308786570782)
Bolch T, Pieczonka T and Benn DI (2011) Multi-decadal mass loss of Glaciers in the Everest area (Nepal Himalaya) derived from stereo imagery. Cryosphere, 5, 349358 (doi: 10.5194/tc-5-349-2011)
Cogley JG and 10 others (2012) Glossary of Glacier mass balance and related terms. IHP-VII Technical Documents in Hydrology No. 86, IACS Contribution No. 2. UNESCO-IHP, Paris
Dykes RC, Brook MS and Winkler S (2010) The contemporary retreat of Tasman Glacier, Southern Alps, New Zealand, and the evolution of Tasman proglacial lake since AD 2000. Erdkunde, 64(H. 2), 141154 (doi: 10.3112/erdkunde.2010.02.03)
Frazer CS and Ravanbakhsh M (2009) Georeferencing accuracy of GeoEye-1 stereo imagery. Photogramm. Eng. Remote Sens., 75(6), 634638
Fujita K and Yutaka A (2000) Effect of summer accumulation on glacier mass balance on the Tibetan Plateau revealed by mass balance model, J. Glaciol., 46, 153
Gardelle J, Berthier E, Arnaud Y and Kääb A (2012) Region-wide glacier mass balances over the Pamir-Karakoram-Himalaya during 1999–2011. Cryosphere, 7, 12631286 (doi: 10.5194/tc-7-1263-2013)
Gulley J and Benn DI (2007) Structural control of englacial drainage systems in Himalayan debris-covered glaciers. J. Glaciol., 53(182), 399412 (doi: 10.3189/002214307783258378)
Gulley J, Benn DI, Luckman A and Müller D (2009) A cut-and-closure origin for englacial conduits on uncrevassed parts of polythermal glaciers. J. Glaciol., 55(189), 6680 (doi: 10.3189/002214309788608930)
Han H, Wang J, Wei J and Liu S (2010) Backwasting rate on debris-covered Koxkar glacier, Tuomuer Mountain, China. J. Glaciol., 56(196), 287296 (doi: 10.3189/002214310791968430)
Immerzeel WW and 6 others (2014) High-resolution monitoring of Himalayan glacier dynamics using unmanned aerial vehicles. Remote Sens. Environ., 150, 93103 (doi: 10/1016/j.rse.2014.04.025)
Juen M, Mayer C, Lambrecht A, Han H and Liu S (2014) Impact of varying debris cover thickness on ablation: a case study for Koxkar Glacier in the Tien Shan. Cryosphere, 8, 377–368 (doi: 10.5194/tc-8-377-2014)
Kirkbride MP (1993) The temporal significance of transitions from melting to calving termini at glaciers in the central Southern Alps of New Zealand, Holocene, 3, 232240.
Kirkbride MP and Warren CR (1997) Calving processes at a grounded ice cliff, Ann. Glaciol., 24, 116121.
Kääb A (2005) Remote sensing of mountain glaciers and permafrost creep. Geographisches Institut der Universitürich, Zürich
Kääb A, Berthier E, Nuth C, Gardelle J and Arnaud Y (2012) Contrasting patterns of early twenty-first-century glacier mass change in the Himalayas. Nature, 488, 495498 (doi: 10.1038/nature11324)
Luckman A, Quincey DJ and Bevan S (2007) The potential of satellite radar interferometry and feature tracking for monitoring flow rates of Himalayan glaciers. Remote Sens. Environ., 111, 172181 (doi: 10.1016/j.rse.2007.05.019)
Nakawo M and Rana B (1999) Estimate of ablation rate of glacier ice under a supraglacial debris layer. Geogr. Ann., 81(A), 695701 (doi: 10.1111/1468-0459.00097)
Nicholson LA (2005) Modelling melt beneath supraglacial debris: implications for the climatic response of debris-covered glaciers. (PhD thesis, University of St. Andrews, UK)
Nicholson LA and Benn DI (2006) Calculating ice melt beneath a debris layer using meteorological data. J. Glaciol., 52(178), 463470 (doi: 10.3189/172756506781828584)
Nicholson LA and Benn DI (2013) Properties of natural supraglacial debris in relation to modelling sub-debris ice ablation. Earth Surf. Proc. Land., 38, 490501 (doi: 10.1002/esp.3299)
Nuimura T and 5 others (2011) Temporal changes in elevation of the debris-covered ablation area of Khumbu Glacier in the Nepal Himalaya since 1978. Arct. Antarc. Alp. Res., 43(2), 246255 (doi: 10.1657/1938-4246-43.2.246)
Nuth C and Kääb A (2011) Co-registration and bias corrections of satellite elevation data sets for quantifying glacier thickness change. Cryosphere, 5, 271290 (doi: 10.5194/tc-5-271-2011)
Oerlemans J (2013) A note on the water budget of temperate glaciers. Cryosphere, 7, 15571564 (doi: 10.5194/tc-7-1557-2013)
Østrem G (1959) Ice melting under a thin layer of moraine, and the existence of ice cores in moraine ridges. Geogr. Ann., 41(4), 228230
Quincey DJ, Luckman A and Benn DI (2009) Quantification of Everest region glacier velocities between 1992 and 2002, using satellite radar interferometry and feature tracking. J. Glaciol., 55(192), 596606 (doi: 3189/002214309789470987)
Reid TD and Brock BW (2014) Assessing ice-cliff backwasting and its contribution to total ablation of debris-covered Miage glacier, Mont Blanc massif. Italy, J. Glaciol., 60(219), 313 (doi: 10.3189/2014JoG045)
Reznichenko N, Davies T, Shulmeister J and McSaveney M (2010) Effects of debris on ice-surface melting rates: an experimental study. J. Glaciol., 56(197), 385394 (doi: 10.3189/002214310792447725)
Röhl K (2006) Thermo-erosional notch development at fresh-water-calving Tasman Glacier, New Zealand. J. Glaciol., 52(177), 203213 (doi: 10.3189/172756506781828773)
Röhl K (2008) Characteristics and evolution of supraglacial ponds on debris-covered Tasman Glacier, New Zealand. J. Glaciol., 54(188), 867880 (doi: 10.3189/002214308787779861)
Rowan AV, Egholm DL, Quincey DL and Glasser NF (2015) Modelling the feedbacks between mass balance, ice flow and debris transport to predict the response to climate change of debris-covered glaciers in the Himalaya. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 430, 427438 (doi: 10.1016/j.epsl.2015.09.004)
Sakai A and Fujita K (2010) Formation conditions of supraglacial lakes on debris-covered glaciers in the Himalaya. J. Glaciol., 56(195), 177181 (doi: 10.3189/002214310791190785)
Sakai A, Nakawo M and Fujita K (1998) Melt rate of ice cliffs on the Lirung Glacier, Nepal Himalaya. Bull. Glacier Res., 16, 5766
Sakai A, Takeuchi N, Fujita K and Nakawo M (2000a) Role of supraglacial ponds in the ablation processes in debris-covered glaciers in the Nepal Himalayas. In Nakawo N, Fountain A and Raymond C eds. Debris-covered glaciers. IAHS-AISH Publication 264, Wallingford, 119130
Sakai A, Chikita K and Yamada T (2000b) Expansion of a moraine-dammed glacial lake, Tsho Rolpa, in Rolwaling Himal, Nepal Himalaya. Limnol. Oceanogr., 45, 14011408 (doi: 10.4319/lo.2000.45.6.1401)
Sakai A, Nakawo M and Fujita K (2002) Distribution, characteristics and energy balance on ice cliffs in debris-covered glaciers, Nepal Himalayas. Arct. Antarct. Alp. Res., 34(1), 1219 (doi: 10.2307/1552503)
Sakai A, Nishimura K, Kadota T and Tekeuchi N (2009) Onset of calving at supraglacial lakes on debris-covered glaciers of the Nepal Himalaya. J. Glaciol., 55(193), 909917 (doi: 10.3189/002214309790152555)
Scherler D, Bookhagen B and Strecher MR (2011) Spatially variable response of Himalayan glaciers to climate change affected by debris-cover. Nat. Geosci., 4, 156159 (doi: 10.1038/ngeo1068)
Thompson SS, Benn DI, Dennis K and Luckman A (2012) A rapidly growing moraine-dammed glacial lake on Ngozumpa Glacier, Nepal. Geomorphology, 145–146, 111 (doi: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2011.08.015)
Wessels RL, Kargel JS and Kieffer HH (2002) ASTER measurement of supraglacial lakes in the Mount Everest region of the Himalaya, Ann. Glaciol., 34, 399408 (doi: 10.3189/172756402781817545)
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Glaciology
  • ISSN: 0022-1430
  • EISSN: 1727-5652
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-glaciology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords:

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 13
Total number of PDF views: 343 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 449 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 16th December 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.