Wintertime surface energy balance of a high-altitude seasonal snow surface in Chhota Shigri glacier basin, Western Himalaya
Mohd Soheb, Alagappan Ramanathan, Arindan Mandal, Thupstan Angchuk, Naveen Pandey, Som Dutta Mishra, 2018. "Wintertime surface energy balance of a high-altitude seasonal snow surface in Chhota Shigri glacier basin, Western Himalaya", The Himalayan Cryosphere: Past and Present, N.C. Pant, R. Ravindra, D. Srivastava, L.G. Thompson
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We describe a time series of meteorological parameters and surface energy balance components of a seasonal snow cover from an automatic weather station (4863 m a.s.l., 32.28° N, 77.58° E), for a winter season from 1 December 2012 to 30 March 2013, located on a moraine close to the equilibrium line altitude of Chhota Shigri glacier, Himachal Pradesh, India. The analysis shows that for over 80% of the time in winter, the snow surface was at a cooling phase. During late winter however, the surface had some positive residual energy which induced some melt during peak hours of the day. The net all-wave radiation was mostly negative during winter because of the high reflective property of snow and reduced incoming longwave radiation due to low cloud. The sensible heat flux heats the surface at night and enhances the cooling during day. The latent heat flux is always negative, showing that the surface is losing mass through sublimation processes (−0.83 mm w.e./day). A correlation between the energy fluxes and temperature shows a distinct relationship between fluxes. A comparison between the two studies performed on- and off-glacier reveals a significant difference in some parameters. A higher value (−1.08 mm/day) of sublimation rate at 4863 m a.s.l. shows that a large amount of energy available at the surface was used in sublimation processes. A comparatively lower albedo, relative humidity and net longwave radiation and higher latent heat flux, wind speed and net shortwave radiation yield a distinctive surface energy balance, highlighting the need for a large number of stations at different zones to achieve a coherent picture of energy balance in the region.
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The Himalaya mountains contain not only one of the largest concentrations of ice outside the polar regions, but contribute to the hydrological requirements of large populations spread over seven nations. The exceptionally high elevations of this low-latitude cryosphere presents a natural laboratory and archives to study climate–tectonics interactions as well as regional v. global climate influences. The existing base-level data on the Himalayan cryosphere are highly variable. Several climate fluctuations occurred during the late Quaternary (MIS1–MIS5, especially the last c. 100 ka), which led to the evolution of the Himalayan landscape. Detailed studies of these archives, along with those of the present cryosphere and related hydrosphere, are essential for understanding the controls on present and future hydrology of the glacial-fed mountain rivers.
This volume, a follow-up of the XII International Symposium on Antarctic Earth Science, Goa (A SCAR symposium), provides new data from locales spread over the entire Himalaya region and from Tibet. It provides a glimpse of the late Quaternary cryosphere, as well as a discussion in the last section on sustainability in the context of geohazard mitigations as well as the hydrological budget.