Journal cover Journal topic
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/hess-2016-503
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
20 Oct 2016
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).
Assessing glacier contribution to river runoff in the Andes of central Chile: Analysis of in situ weather station data, runoff measurements and melt modelling at Universidad glacier (34°40’ S, 70°20’ W)
Claudio Bravo1, Thomas Loriaux1,2, Andrés Rivera1,3, and Ben W. Brock4 1Centro de Estudios Científicos, Valdivia, Chile
2School of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
3Departamento de Geografía Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile
4Department of Geography, Northumbria University, Newcastle, UK
Abstract. Glacier melt is an important source of water for Andean rivers in central Chile, especially in dry years when it can be the main contributor to lowland flows in late summer and autumn. However, few studies have quantified the glacier melt contribution to river runoff. To address some of these shortcomings, we present an analysis of meteorological conditions and melt for Universidad glacier, a large valley glacier in the Mediterranean climate central Andes of Chile at the head of the Tinguiririca river, for the 2009–2010 ablation season. We used meteorological measurements from two automatic weather stations installed on the glacier to drive a distributed temperature-index melt and runoff routing model, and compare total modelled glacier melt to river flow measurements at three sites located between 0.5 and 50 km downstream. The temperature-index model was calibrated at the lower weather station site showing good agreement with melt estimates from an ablation stake and sonic ranger, and with a physically-based energy balance model. Universidad glacier is characterized by extremely high melt rates over the ablation season which exceed 10 m water equivalent on the lower altitude part of the glacier, representing a contribution between 10 % and 13 % of the total runoff observed in the upper Tinguiririca basin during the November 2009 to March 2010 period. This contribution rises to a maximum of 34 % in late summer demonstrating the importance of glacier runoff to river flow, particularly in dry summers such as 2009–2010. The temperature-index approach benefits from the availability of on-glacier meteorological data and is suited to high melt regimes, but would not be easily applicable to glaciers further north in Chile where sublimation is more significant.

Citation: Bravo, C., Loriaux, T., Rivera, A., and Brock, B. W.: Assessing glacier contribution to river runoff in the Andes of central Chile: Analysis of in situ weather station data, runoff measurements and melt modelling at Universidad glacier (34°40’ S, 70°20’ W), Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., doi:10.5194/hess-2016-503, in review, 2016.
Claudio Bravo et al.
Claudio Bravo et al.
Claudio Bravo et al.

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Short summary
We present an analysis of meteorological conditions and melt for Universidad glacier in central Chile. This glacier is characterized by high melt rates over the ablation season, representing a mean contribution between 10 % and 13 % of the total runoff observed in the upper Tinguiririca basin during the November 2009 to March 2010 period. Few studies have quantified the glacier melt contribution to river runoff in Chile and this work represent a new precedent for the Andes.
We present an analysis of meteorological conditions and melt for Universidad glacier in central...
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