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Open AccessArticle

Reconciling High Glacier Surface Melting in Summer with Air Temperature in the Semi-Arid Zone of Western Himalaya

1
Earth System Science Organization (ESSO)–National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research, Headland Sada, Vasco-da-Gama 403804, India
2
Department of Civil Engineering, Dhanekula Institute of Engineering and technology, Vijayawada 521139, India
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(8), 1561; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11081561
Received: 27 March 2019 / Revised: 1 July 2019 / Accepted: 9 July 2019 / Published: 29 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impacts of Climate Change on Water Resources in Glacierized Regions)
In Himalaya, the temperature plays a key role in the process of snow and ice melting and, importantly, the precipitation phase changes (i.e., snow or rain). Consequently, in longer period, the melting and temperature gradient determine the state of the Himalayan glaciers. This necessitates the continuous monitoring of glacier surface melting and a well-established meteorological network in the Himalaya. An attempt has been made to study the seasonal and annual (October 2015 to September 2017) characteristics of air temperature, near-surface temperature lapse rate (tlr), in-situ glacier surface melting, and surface melt simulation by temperature-index (T-index) models for Sutri Dhaka Glacier catchment, Lahaul-Spiti region in Western Himalaya. The tlr of the catchment ranges from 0.3 to 6.5 °C km−1, varying on a monthly and seasonal timescale, which suggests the need for avoiding the use of standard environmental lapse rate (SELR ~6.5 °C km−1). The measured and extrapolated average air temperature (tavg) was found to be positive on glacier surface (4500 to 5500 m asl) between June and September (summer). Ablation data calculated for the balance years 2015–16 and 2016–17 shows an average melting of −4.20 ± 0.84 and −3.09 ± 0.62 m w.e., respectively. In compliance with positive air temperature in summer, ablation was also found to be maximum ~88% of total yearly ice melt. When comparing the observed and modelled ablation data with air temperature, we show that the high summer glacier melt was caused by warmer summer air temperature and minimum spells of summer precipitation in the catchment. View Full-Text
Keywords: Himalayan glaciers; summer melting; temperature lapse rate and high-altitude observations Himalayan glaciers; summer melting; temperature lapse rate and high-altitude observations
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Pratap, B.; Sharma, P.; Patel, L.; Singh, A.T.; Gaddam, V.K.; Oulkar, S.; Thamban, M. Reconciling High Glacier Surface Melting in Summer with Air Temperature in the Semi-Arid Zone of Western Himalaya. Water 2019, 11, 1561.

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