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Future Climate Change and Its Impact on Runoff Generation from the Debris-Covered Inylchek Glaciers, Central Tian Shan, Kyrgyzstan

Department of Geography, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Luisenstrasse 37, 80333 Munich, Germany
Department of Geography and Geology, University of Würzburg, Am Hubland, 97074 Würzburg, Germany
Institute of Geophysics and Meteorology, University of Cologne, Pohligstr. 3, 50969 Cologne, Germany
Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Wolfgang-Gaede-Strasse 1, 76131 Karlsruhe, Germany
Institute for Cartography, Technische Universität Dresden, 01062 Dresden, Germany
Geodesy and Glaciology, Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Alfons-Goppel-Str. 11, 80539 Munich, Germany
Department of Geography, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstr. 190, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2018, 10(11), 1513;
Received: 16 August 2018 / Revised: 16 October 2018 / Accepted: 21 October 2018 / Published: 25 October 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impacts of Climate Change on Water Resources in Glacierized Regions)
PDF [2653 KB, uploaded 1 November 2018]


The heavily debris-covered Inylchek glaciers in the central Tian Shan are the largest glacier system in the Tarim catchment. It is assumed that almost 50% of the discharge of Tarim River are provided by glaciers. For this reason, climatic changes, and thus changes in glacier mass balance and glacier discharge are of high impact for the whole region. In this study, a conceptual hydrological model able to incorporate discharge from debris-covered glacier areas is presented. To simulate glacier melt and subsequent runoff in the past (1970/1971–1999/2000) and future (2070/2071–2099/2100), meteorological input data were generated based on ECHAM5/MPI-OM1 global climate model projections. The hydrological model HBV-LMU was calibrated by an automatic calibration algorithm using runoff and snow cover information as objective functions. Manual fine-tuning was performed to avoid unrealistic results for glacier mass balance. The simulations show that annual runoff sums will increase significantly under future climate conditions. A sensitivity analysis revealed that total runoff does not decrease until the glacier area is reduced by 43%. Ice melt is the major runoff source in the recent past, and its contribution will even increase in the coming decades. Seasonal changes reveal a trend towards enhanced melt in spring, but a change from a glacial-nival to a nival-pluvial runoff regime will not be reached until the end of this century. View Full-Text
Keywords: glaciers; debris-covered glaciers; hydrological modelling; climate scenarios; Tian Shan glaciers; debris-covered glaciers; hydrological modelling; climate scenarios; Tian Shan

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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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Hagg, W.; Mayr, E.; Mannig, B.; Reyers, M.; Schubert, D.; Pinto, J.G.; Peters, J.; Pieczonka, T.; Juen, M.; Bolch, T.; Paeth, H.; Mayer, C. Future Climate Change and Its Impact on Runoff Generation from the Debris-Covered Inylchek Glaciers, Central Tian Shan, Kyrgyzstan. Water 2018, 10, 1513.

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