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HighNoon - Glacier inventory

The project HighNoon focused on identifying changes in snow and glacier melting and changes in monsoon’s patterns as an effect from climate change. One of the project main tasks was to collect glacier outlines from various databases and to compile a comprehensive glacier inventory of the best available glacier data for the entire Himalayas. Regarding the areas that have not been covered by the global glacier databases until today, new outlines were created by remote sensor techniques. Initial evaluations of volumes of ice stored in the Himalayas were subsequently derived. These data for glacier areas and volumes are useful for carrying out Regional Climate Models (REMO) in order to perform a dynamical coupling of glaciers with climate. Furthermore, the dataset can be used as a benchmark for comparing future changes in the glaciers.

A glacier parameterization scheme has earlier been developed and implemented into the regional climate model REMO. This scheme has previously been tested successfully in the European Alps. In the aforementioned project, the same scheme was applied over the South Asian-Himalayan mountain range. Various observational data sets, in particular a regional glacier inventory compiled by the University of Zurich, were used to initialize glacier area and glacier volume in the year 1989. A first ten-year simulation for the period 1989-1998 was also carried out, using the REMO model.

The results are currently analysed in detail, but preliminary results have shown a decrease of the total glaciated area in the model domain by 13% by the end of year 1998 with respect to year 1989. In contrast, the total ice volume in the model domain is showing an overall increase. This increase is due to snow accumulation onto several heavily glaciated grid cells: this snow is subsequently turned into glacier ice and thereby increases the total ice volume. The major part of the simulation domain experiences a strong decrease of glacier area. Areas with local increases in glacier area (and volume) are found in the northern part of the model domain, e.g. in Karakoram Belt and in some parts of the Kashmir Great Himalayan Belt.

 

Source:
Moors, E. J. and C. Siderius, 2012. Adaptation to Climate Change in the Ganges Basin, Northern India: A Science and Policy Brief. Alterra, Wageningen UR, Wageningen, the Netherlands.