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Water 2016, 8(5), 186; doi:10.3390/w8050186

Rationalization of Altitudinal Precipitation Profiles in a Data-Scarce Glacierized Watershed Simulation in the Karakoram

1,2
,
1
,
1,2
and
1,2,3,*
1
Key Lab of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), 11A, Datun Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100101, China
2
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, No. 19A, Yuquan Road, Shijingshan District, Beijing 100049, China
3
Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, CAS, Urumqi 830011, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Y. Jun Xu
Received: 25 February 2016 / Revised: 28 April 2016 / Accepted: 29 April 2016 / Published: 5 May 2016
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Abstract

Due to the scarcity of field observations and geodetic measurements in catchments in the Karakoram Mountains in Western China, obtaining precipitation data for the high mountains involves large uncertainties and difficulties. In this study, we used a functional relationship between the annual glacier accumulation and summer temperature at the equilibrium line altitude (ELA) to derive precipitation lapse rates (PLAPSs) in a data-scarce watershed. These data were used in a modified Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model with a glacier module to simulate glacio-hydrological processes in the Yarkant River basin in the Karakoram. The PLAPS based on the widely-used grid datasets considerably underestimated precipitation, yielding an unreasonable watershed water balance and inaccurate glacier changes. However, the ELA-based PLAPS improved the simulation significantly. In the Yarkant River basin, the annual precipitation reached a peak of 800–1000 mm at approximately 5300 m a.s.l. The model simulations indicated that the contributions of glacier melt and ice melt to total runoff were 52% and 31%, respectively. Moreover, a significant precipitation increase and a non-significant temperature increase during the melt season may be the major reasons for the decreased ice melt and slower glacier shrinkage on the northern slope of the Karakoram during the period of 1968–2007. View Full-Text
Keywords: precipitation lapse rates; high-elevation precipitation; ELA; SWAT; Karakoram precipitation lapse rates; high-elevation precipitation; ELA; SWAT; Karakoram
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Wang, X.; Sun, L.; Zhang, Y.; Luo, Y. Rationalization of Altitudinal Precipitation Profiles in a Data-Scarce Glacierized Watershed Simulation in the Karakoram. Water 2016, 8, 186.

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