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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle

Field Study of Mass Balance, and Hydrology of the West Khangri Nup Glacier (Khumbu, Everest)

1
Politecnico di Milano Dip. Ingegneria Civile e Ambientale, L. da Vinci 32, 20133 Milano, Italy
2
Associazione EVK2CNR, San Bernardino 145, 24126 Bergamo, Italy
3
Food Quality and Nutrition Department, Research and Innovation Centre, Fondazione Edmund Mach, via Mach 1, 38010 San Michele all’Adige (TN), Italy
4
Center Agriculture Food Environment (C3A), University of Trento, via Mach 1, 38010 San Michele all’Adige (TN), Italy
5
Politecnico di Milano, Dip. Energia, Ponzio 34-3, 20133 Milano, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2020, 12(2), 433; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12020433
Received: 29 November 2019 / Revised: 29 January 2020 / Accepted: 30 January 2020 / Published: 6 February 2020
The depiction of glaciers’ dynamics in the high altitudes of Himalaya and the hydrological fluxes therein is often limited. Although sparse seasonal (snow/ice) melt data may be available, dense precipitation networks are not available everywhere, and especially in the highest area, and the assessment of accumulation processes and mass balance may be difficult. Hydrological fluxes are little measured in the high altitudes, and few studies are available covering flow modeling and flow partitioning. Here, we investigate the snow accumulation, ice melt, and mass balance of West Khangri Nup (WKN) glacier (0.23 km2, mean altitude 5494 m asl), which is a part of the Khumbu glacier in the Everest region, where information of precipitation and hydro-glaciological dynamics in the highest altitudes was made available recently in fulfillment of several research projects. Weather, glaciological, snow pits, hydrologic, and isotopic data gathered during field campaigns (2010–2014) on the glacier and at the EVK2CNR Pyramid site were used to (i) set up the Poli-Hydro glacio-hydrological model to describe ice and snow melt and hydrological flows from the glacier, and (ii) investigate seasonal snow dynamics on this high region of the glacier. Coupling ice ablation data and Poli-Hydro simulation for ca. 5 years (January 2010–June 2014), we estimate that the WKN depleted ca. −10.46 m of ice water equivalent per year m IWE year−1 (i.e., annually ca. −2.32 meter of water equivalent per year m WE year−1). Then, using snowpack density and isotopic (δ18O) profiles on the WKN, we demonstrate that the local snowpack is recent (Fall–Winter 2013–2014) and that significant snow accumulation did not occur recently, so this area has not been a significant one of accumulation recently. Analysis of recent snow cover from LANDSAT images also confirms snow dynamics as depicted. Our study presents original data and results, and it complements present studies covering glaciers’ mass balance as well as an investigation of accumulation zones in the Everest region and the Himalayas, which is also potentially helpful in the assessment of future dynamics under ongoing climate change. View Full-Text
Keywords: Himalayan water towers; climate change; glaciers’ evolution; mass balance Himalayan water towers; climate change; glaciers’ evolution; mass balance
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Bocchiola, D.; Bombelli, G.M.; Camin, F.; Ossi, P.M. Field Study of Mass Balance, and Hydrology of the West Khangri Nup Glacier (Khumbu, Everest). Water 2020, 12, 433.

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