Journal cover Journal topic
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
16 Jun 2016
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It has been under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS). The revised manuscript was not accepted.
Bridging glacier and river catchment scales: an efficient representation of glacier dynamics in a hydrological model
Michel Wortmann1,2, Tobias Bolch3,4, Valentina Krysanova1, and Su Buda5 1Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Telegraphenberg A31, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
2Department of Geography, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, United Kingdom
3Department of Geography, University of Zurich, Winterthurer Strasse 190, 8057 Zuerich, Switzerland
4Institute for Cartography, Technische Universität Dresden, 01069 Dresden, Germany
5National Climate Centre, Chinese Meteorological Administration, No. 46, Zhongguancun South Street, Beijing, China
Abstract. Glacierised river catchments have been shown to be highly sensitive to climate change, while large populations depend on the water resources originating from them. Hydrological models are used to aid water resource management, yet their treatment of glacier processes is either rudimentary in large applications or linked to fully distributed glacier models that prevent larger model domains. Also, data scarcity in mountainous catchments has hampered the implementation of physically based approaches over entire river catchments. A fully integrated glacier dynamics module was developed for the eco-hydrological model SWIM (SWIM-G) that takes full account of the spatial heterogeneity of mountainous catchments but keeps in line with the semi-distributed disaggregation of the hydrological model. The glacierised part of the catchment is disaggregated into glaciological response units that are based on subbasin, elevation zone and aspect classes. They seamlessly integrate into the hydrological response units of the hydrological model SWIM. Robust and simple approaches to ice flow, avalanching, snow accumulation and metamorphism as well as glacier ablation under consideration of aspect, debris cover and sublimation are implemented in the model, balancing process complexity and data availability. The fully integrated is also capable of simulating a range of other hydrological processes that are common for larger mountainous catchments such as reservoirs, irrigation agriculture and runoff from a diverse soil and vegetation cover. SWIM-G is initialised and calibrated to initial glacier hypsometry, glacier mass balance and river discharge. While the model is intended to be used in medium to large river basins with data-scarce and glacierised headwaters, it is here validated in the data-abundant catchment of the Upper Rhone River, Switzerland and the data-scarce catchment of the Upper Aksu River, Kyrgyzstan/NW China.

Citation: Wortmann, M., Bolch, T., Krysanova, V., and Buda, S.: Bridging glacier and river catchment scales: an efficient representation of glacier dynamics in a hydrological model, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss.,, 2016.
Michel Wortmann et al.
Michel Wortmann et al.


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