Climate Change Impact on Cryosphere in Central Southern Himalaya (Nepal)

Feb 11th, 2013 | By | Category: Advocacy, Climatic Changes in Himalayas, Development and Climate Change, Disasters and Climate Change, Ecosystem Functions, Environment, Glaciers, Green House Gas Emissions, Health and Climate Change, Information and Communication, International Agencies, Learning, Lessons, Research, Vulnerability, Water

050712_0344_NepalDefini1.jpgMUW: With the aim of understanding the relation between climate and glacier dynamics, we analyse glacier changes from 1958 to 2011 and meteorological observations from 1992 to 2011, in Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) National Park, using satellite imagery, maps and insitu field measurements. Multi-temporal satellite products and topographic maps were used for glacier terminus, surface and snowline altitude (SLA) analysis from 1958 to 2011. We observed the continuous decrease of glaciers in 1958-2011 with accelerated rate in the recent years. The average terminus retreatment of analysed 29 glaciers was about 37237 m (7.0 m a1) in 1958 to 2011 with retreat rate of 6.11.9 m a1 in 1958-75 and nearly its double in 2008-11. The glacier surface area had loss of 14.35.9% (0.27% a1) from 396.2 km2 to 339.5 km2 in 53 years with the loss by 0.12 % a1 in 1958-75 to 0.70% a1 in recent years. The smaller glaciers with <1 km2 dimension had decreased by 43% in their surface area showing rapid disappearance of very small glacier. The accumulation area decreased by 24.8%, while ablation area increased by 17.7% with nearly 6% increase in debris-cover surface in ablation zone in 1958 to 2011.

The accumulation and ablation area changes can be explained by SLA position which was continuously moving upward from 5279 m a.s.l. (s=144) in 1958 to 5472 m a.s.l. (s=209) in 2011 with the overall vertical shift of 1929 m (3.6 m a1). The rate of SLA shift was the highest in recent years with the rate of 12.82.9 m a1 a.s.l. while the rate was observed 2.11.7 m a1 in 1958-75. Majority of glaciers are retreating but some glaciers observed as stationary or even advancing in certain period of analysis. The overall glacier change behaviors are similar to glaciers observed in other part of the Himalayan region. We reconstruct single series both for temperature and precipitation through the monthly quantile mapping and expectation maximization techniques from the in-situ observations in different automatic weather stations located in the Mt. Everest region.

The singular spectral analysis and monthly sequential Mann-Kendall test of the temperature and precipitation for 1992-2011 indicated that the temperature has increased about +0.03C a1 but statistically significant only for winter months. The precipitation has decreased about 180 mm in the analysis period. The decreases in precipitation are statistically significant for both winter and summer precipitation. We conclude by underlining that the observed variation of glacier surface and SLA changes could be explained by the increase of temperature and decrease of precipitation in recent years.

Authors: Salerno F., Thakuri S., Viviano G., Guyennon N., D’Agata C., Smiraglia C., and Tartari G.

Corresponding Author: Franco Salerno IRSA-CNR and Ev-K2-CNR  e-mail:

Source: Proceedings of Mountains Under Watch 2013


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