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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-2019-1
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-1
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 08 Feb 2019

Research article | 08 Feb 2019

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).

Hydrologic Diversity in Glacier Bay Alaska: Spatial Patterns and Temporal Change

Ryan L. Crumley1, David F. Hill2, Jordan P. Beamer3, and Elizabeth Holzenthal2 Ryan L. Crumley et al.
  • 1Water Resources Science, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
  • 2School of Civil and Construction Engineering, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
  • 3Oregon Water Resources Department, Salem, OR 97301, USA

Abstract. A high spatial resolution (250 m), distributed snow evolution and ablation model, SnowModel, is used to estimate current and future freshwater runoff into Glacier Bay, Alaska; a fjord estuary that makes up part of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve (GBNPP). The watershed of Glacier Bay contains significant glacier cover (tidewater and land-terminating) and strong spatial gradients in topography, land cover, and precipitation. The physical complexity and variability of the region produces a wide variety of hydrological regimes, including rainfall, snowmelt, and ice-melt dominated responses. The historic (1979–2015) mean annual runoff into Glacier Bay proper is found to be 24.5 km3 yr-1, with a peak in July, due to the overall dominance of snowmelt processes that are largely supplemented by ice-melt. Future scenarios (2070–2099) of climate and glacier cover are used to estimate changes in the hydrologic response of Glacier Bay. Under the RCP 8.5 scenario, the mean of five climate models produces a mean annual runoff of 27.5 km3 yr-1, a 12.2 % increase from historical conditions. When spatially aggregated over the entire bay region, the future seasonal hydrograph is flatter with weaker summer flows and higher winter flows. The peak flows shift to late-summer and early-fall and rain runoff becomes the dominant overall process. The timing and magnitudes of modeled historic runoff are supported by a freshwater content analysis from a 24-year, CTD-based oceanographic dataset from the U.S. National Park Service's Southeast Alaska Inventory and Monitoring Network (SEAN). Individual watersheds display a variety of changes, depending upon total glacier coverage, elevation distribution, landscape characteristics, and seasonal changes to the freezing line altitude.

Ryan L. Crumley et al.
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Ryan L. Crumley et al.
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Short summary
In this study we investigate the historical (1980–2015) and forecast (2070–2099) components of freshwater runoff to Glacier Bay, Alaska using a modeling approach. We find that many of the historically snow-dominated watersheds in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve may transition towards rainfall-dominated hydrographs in a future scenario in which CO2 emissions are not mitigated. The changes in timing and volume of freshwater entering Glacier Bay will affect bay ecology and hydrochemistry.
In this study we investigate the historical (1980–2015) and forecast (2070–2099) components of...
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