Abstract

Reduced meltwater discharge owing to glacier retreat can have severe impacts on downstream water users. To assess these impacts, it is essential to differentiate between water from glacier melt and other sources. We propose a method for doing this on a daily time scale by applying a mixing law to electrical conductivity and proglacial discharge measurements. Daily ablation is then estimated by applying a recession law to the glacier melt component. Testing this method on summer hydrology and meteorology measurements from the Baounet Glacier (France) taken over six consecutive years (2008–2013) allowed us to reconstruct daily ablation during the ablation period. Mean ablation rates ranged from 20 to 30 mm·day−1. Air temperature measurements showed that periods of low ablation during the summer were linked to cooler days and snowfall periods. Comparisons for three consecutive summers showed that the ablation rates obtained by summing calculated daily ablation were statistically similar to the rates recorded by ablation stakes.

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