Glacier Simulation at Max Planck Institute for Meteorology

A glacier parameterization scheme has been developed and implemented into the regional climate model REMO. The scheme has previously been tested successfully in the European Alps (Kotlarski et al. Clim Dyn, 2010). In the HighNoon project the same scheme is applied over the South Asian-Himalayan mountain range. Various observational data sets, in particular a regional glacier inventory compiled by the University of Zurich, were used to initialize glacier area and glacier volume in the year 1989. A simulation for the period 1989-1998 using the ECMWF reanalysis ERA-Interim as atmospheric boundary forcing was carried out.

The results are currently analyzed in detail. Preliminary results show a decrease of the total glaciated area in the model domain by ~13% (Figure 1). In contrast, the total ice volume in the model domain is showing an overall increase which is due to the fact the several heavily glaciated grid cells experience a strong snow accumulation, which is subsequently turned into glacier ice and thereby increases the total ice volume. The horizontal pattern of the change of the glacierized grid box area until 1998 (% with respect to 1989) is presented in Figure 2. The major part of the simulation domain experiences a strong decrease of glacier area. Areas with local increases in glacier area (and volume) are found in the northern part of the model domain, in Karakoram Belt and in some parts of the Kashmir Great Himalayan Belt.

Figure 1: Monthly mean values (m2) total glaciated area for the full simulation domain



Figure 2: Change of the glacierized grid box area (1998) (% with respect to 1989)


KEY Points

  • A glacier parameterization scheme has successfully been implemented into the regional climate model REMO over a South Asian model domain
  • A first ten-year REMO simulation shows that the total glaciated area is decreasing by ~13% by the end of year 1998 with respect to year 1989 (Figure-1)
  • The spatial pattern of glacier area changes shows a prominent glacier shrinkage in most parts of the model domain. However, a few grid cells show a considerable increase in glacier area and volume, especially in the northern part, in the Karakoram Belt and in some parts of the  Kashmir Himalayan region. This feature is related to a strong snow accumulation in the respective grid cells.