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Four years of mass balance on Chhota Shigri Glacier, Himachal Pradesh, India, a new benchmark glacier in the western Himalaya

Abstract : Little is known about the Himalayan glaciers, although they are of particular interest in terms of future water supply, regional climate change and sea-level rise. In 2002, a long-term monitoring programme was started on Chhota Shigri Glacier (32.2°N, 77.5°E; 15.7 km2, 6263-4050 m a.s.l., 9 km long) located in Lahaul and Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India. This glacier lies in the monsoon-arid transition zone (western Himalaya) which is alternately influenced by Asian monsoon in summer and the mid-latitude westerlies in winter. Here we present the results of a 4 year study of mass balance and surface velocity. Overall specific mass balances are mostly negative during the study period and vary from a minimum value of -1.4 m w.e. in 2002/03 and 2005/06 (equilibrium-line altitude (ELA) ∼5180 m a.s.l.) to a maximum value of +0.1 m w.e. in 2004/05 (ELA 4855 m a.s.l.). Chhota Shigri Glacier seems similar to mid-latitude glaciers, with an ablation season limited to the summer months and a mean vertical gradient of mass balance in the ablation zone (debris-free part) of 0.7 m w.e. (100 m)-1, similar to those reported in the Alps. Mass balance is strongly dependent on debris cover, exposure and the shading effect of surrounding steep slopes.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, April 22, 2009 - 11:08:01 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, October 15, 2020 - 3:12:09 AM

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Patrick Wagnon, Anurag Linda, Yves Arnaud, Rajesh Kumar, Parmanand Sharma, et al.. Four years of mass balance on Chhota Shigri Glacier, Himachal Pradesh, India, a new benchmark glacier in the western Himalaya. Journal of Glaciology, International Glaciological Society, 2007, 53 (183), pp.603 à 611. ⟨10.3189/002214307784409306⟩. ⟨insu-00377512⟩

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