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Weak Precipitation, Warm Winters and Springs Impact Glaciers of South Slopes of Mt. Everest (Central Himalaya) in the Last Two Decades (1994–2013) : Volume 8, Issue 6 (01/12/2014)

By Salerno, F.

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Book Id: WPLBN0004023125
Format Type: PDF Article :
File Size: Pages 49
Reproduction Date: 2015

Title: Weak Precipitation, Warm Winters and Springs Impact Glaciers of South Slopes of Mt. Everest (Central Himalaya) in the Last Two Decades (1994–2013) : Volume 8, Issue 6 (01/12/2014)  
Author: Salerno, F.
Volume: Vol. 8, Issue 6
Language: English
Subject: Science, Cryosphere, Discussions
Collections: Periodicals: Journal and Magazine Collection (Contemporary), Copernicus GmbH
Publication Date:
Publisher: Copernicus Gmbh, Göttingen, Germany
Member Page: Copernicus Publications


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Vuillermoz, E., Thakuri, S., Viviano, G., Salerno, F., Cristofanelli, P., Agrillo, G.,...Guyennon, N. (2014). Weak Precipitation, Warm Winters and Springs Impact Glaciers of South Slopes of Mt. Everest (Central Himalaya) in the Last Two Decades (1994–2013) : Volume 8, Issue 6 (01/12/2014). Retrieved from

Description: National Research Council, Water Research Institute, Brugherio (IRSA-CNR), Italy. Studies on recent climate trends from the Himalayan range are limited, and even completely absent at high elevation. This contribution specifically explores the southern slopes of Mt. Everest (central Himalaya), analyzing the minimum, maximum, and mean temperature and precipitation time series reconstructed from seven stations located between 2660 and 5600m a.s.l. over the last twenty years (1994–2013). We complete this analysis with data from all the existing ground weather stations located on both sides of the mountain range (Koshi Basin) over the same period. Overall we observe that the main and more significant increase in temperature is concentrated outside of the monsoon period. At higher elevations minimum temperature (0.072 ± 0.011 °C a−1, p < 0.001) increased far more than maximum temperature (0.009 ± 0.012 °C a−1, p > 0.1), while mean temperature increased by 0.044 ± 0.008 °C a−1, p < 0.05. Moreover, we note a substantial precipitation weakening (9.3 ± 1.8mm a−1, p < 0.01 during the monsoon season). The annual rate of decrease at higher elevation is similar to the one at lower altitudes on the southern side of the Koshi Basin, but here the drier conditions of this remote environment make the fractional loss much more consistent (47% during the monsoon period). This study contributes to change the perspective on which climatic driver (temperature vs. precipitation) led mainly the glacier responses in the last twenty years. The main implications are the following: (1) the negative mass balances of glaciers observed in this region can be more ascribed to less accumulation due to weaker precipitation than to an increase of melting processes. (2) The melting processes have only been favored during winter and spring months and close to the glaciers terminus. (3) A decreasing of the probability of snowfall has significantly interested only the glaciers ablation zones (10%, p < 0.05), but the magnitude of this phenomenon is decidedly lower than the observed decrease of precipitation. (4) The lesser accumulation could be the cause behind the observed lower glacier flow velocity and the current stagnation condition of tongues, which in turn could have trigged melting processes under the debris glacier coverage, leading to the formation of numerous supraglacial and proglacial lakes that have characterized the region in the last decades. Without demonstrating the causes that could have led to the climate change pattern observed at high elevation, we conclude by listing the recent literature on hypotheses that accord with our observations.

Weak precipitation, warm winters and springs impact glaciers of south slopes of Mt. Everest (central Himalaya) in the last two decades (1994–2013)

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