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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-2019-228
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-228
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 04 Nov 2019

Submitted as: research article | 04 Nov 2019

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

Snowfall increase counters glacier demise in Kunlun Shan and Karakoram

Remco J. de Kok1, Philip D. A. Kraaijenbrink1, Obbe A. Tuinenburg2, Pleun N. J. Bonekamp1, and Walter W. Immerzeel1 Remco J. de Kok et al.
  • 1Departmentof Physical Geography, Utrecht University, Utrecht, PO Box 80115, 3508 TC, the Netherlands
  • 2Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University, Utrecht, PO Box 80115, 3508 TC, the Netherlands

Abstract. Glaciers in High Mountain Asia provide an important water resource for communities downstream and they are markedly impacted by global warming, yet there is a lack in understanding of the observed glacier mass balances and their spatial variability. In particular, the glaciers in the western Kunlun Shan and Karakoram ranges (WKSK) show neutral to positive mass balances despite global warming. Using models of the regional climate and glacier mass balance, we reproduce the observed patterns of glacier mass balance in High Mountain Asia of the last decades. We show that low temperature sensitivities of glaciers and an increase in snowfall, for a large part caused by increases in evapotranspiration from irrigated agriculture, result in positive mass balances in WKSK. The pattern of mass balances in High Mountain Asia can thus be understood from the combination of changes in climatic forcing and glacier properties, with an important role for irrigated agriculture.

Remco J. de Kok et al.
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Short summary
Glaciers worldwide are shrinking, yet glaciers in parts of High Mountain Asia are growing. Using models of the regional climate and glacier growth, we reproduce the observed patterns of glacier growth and shrinkage in High Mountain Asia of the last decades. Increases in snow, in large part from water that comes from lowland agriculture, have been more important than changes in temperature to explain the growing glaciers. We now better understand changes in the crucial mountain water cycle.
Glaciers worldwide are shrinking, yet glaciers in parts of High Mountain Asia are growing. Using...
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