Temperature and precipitation are key inputs for models of glacier hydrology. However, in the high mountains of the Hindu Kush Himalayas these quantities are often unknown. A new paper by Dr Walter Immerzeel and others, recently published in the journal Water Resources Research, examines variations in temperature and precipitation through the Langtang Valley of Nepal, and the effect of these variations on models of glacier hydrology. The research was conducted as part of ICIMOD’s Cryosphere Monitoring Project, which is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.The fieldwork was conducted in Langtang Valley in 2012 and 2013 with the assistance of MSc Glaciology students from Kathmandu University.
Langtang Khola, October 2013, Photo: Joseph Shea/ ICIMOD
Key findings from the paper include the description of temperature and precipitation gradients in the valley, and how these vary through the year. The authors find that glaciohydrological models are very sensitive to the temperature and precipitation inputs, and a thorough understanding of these quantities through ground-based measurements are critical to developing accurate estimates of glacier melt contributions to streamflow. Dr Immerzeel, a visiting scientist at ICIMOD, notes that “short-term field campaigns, such as those developed through the Cryosphere Monitoring Project, are essential components for glacier hydrological studies.”
Immerzeel, W. W., L. Petersen, S.Ragettli, and F. Pellicciotti (2014), The importance of observed gradients ofair temperature and precipitation formodeling runoff from a glacierized watershed in the Nepalese Himalayas,Water Resources Research, 50, doi:10.1002/2013WR014506.