Estimating the avalanche contribution to the mass balance of debris covered glaciers
A. Banerjee1 and R. Shankar21Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Kolkata, Mohanpur Campus, India 2The Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai, India
Received: 16 Dec 2013 – Accepted for review: 09 Jan 2014 – Discussion started: 23 Jan 2014
Abstract. Avalanche from high head walls dominates the net accumulation in many debris covered glaciers in the Himalaya. These avalanche contributions are difficult to directly measure and may cause a systematic bias in glaciological mass balance measurements. In this paper we develop a method to estimate the avalanche contribution using available data, within the context of an idealised flowline model of the glacier. We focus on Hamtah glacier in Western Himalaya and estimate the magnitude of the avalanche accumulation to its specific mass balance profile. Our estimate explains the reported discrepancy between values of recent glaciological and geodetic net mass balance for this glacier. Model estimate of accumulation area ratio (AAR) for this glacier is small (0.1) even at a steady state. This shows that empirical mass balance–AAR relationships derived from glaciers which do not have a significant avalanche contribution will not apply to a large region containing a significant fraction avalanche fed ones.
Banerjee, A. and Shankar, R.: Estimating the avalanche contribution to the mass balance of debris covered glaciers, The Cryosphere Discuss., 8, 641-657, doi:10.5194/tcd-8-641-2014, 2014.