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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2017-210
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2017-210
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: review article 02 Nov 2017

Submitted as: review article | 02 Nov 2017

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It has been under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC). A final paper in TC is not foreseen.

Review article: The hydrology of debris-covered glaciers – state of the science and future research directions

Katie E. Miles1, Bryn Hubbard1, Tristam D. L. Irvine-Fynn1, Evan S. Miles2, Duncan J. Quincey2, and Ann V. Rowan3 Katie E. Miles et al.
  • 1Centre for Glaciology, Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth, UK
  • 2School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  • 3Department of Geography, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK

Abstract. Debris-covered glaciers (DCGs) are characterised by distinct hydrological systems that differ fundamentally from those observed on clean-ice valley glaciers. To date, most studies of DCG hydrology have focused on supraglacial hydrology, given that surface streams are broadly accessible and repeat observations can lead to conceptual models of channel evolution. Few have characterised englacial conduits and their layout, and none have directly investigated potential subglacial drainage networks in any setting. In this review, we summarise the current state of knowledge relating to DCG hydrology with a global focus, and present our own field observations to illustrate the distinct nature of DCG landforms on a receding high-elevation glacier in the Himalaya. We draw on recent work that has gone some way towards providing a process-based understanding of the formation and evolution of englacial and subglacial hydrological pathways and consider the role that DCG hydrology plays in regulating water supplies to downstream communities, contrasting this information with clean-ice examples. We conclude by identifying important knowledge gaps that might be considered priorities for future research into DCG hydrology.

Katie E. Miles et al.
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AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
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Interactive discussion
Status: closed
Status: closed
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
Printer-friendly Version - Printer-friendly version Supplement - Supplement
Katie E. Miles et al.
Katie E. Miles et al.
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Short summary
The production and routing of meltwater through glaciers is important because that water influences glacier sliding, and represents a resource in some instances and a hazard in others. Despite this importance, very little is known about the hydrology of debris-covered glaciers, which are commonly located at high altitudes. Here, we present a review of the hydrology of debris-covered glaciers, summarizing the current state of knowledge and identify potential future research priorities.
The production and routing of meltwater through glaciers is important because that water...
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