Articles | Volume 4, issue 4
The Cryosphere, 4, 435–445, 2010
The Cryosphere, 4, 435–445, 2010

Research article 06 Oct 2010

Research article | 06 Oct 2010

The Northeast Asia mountain glaciers in the near future by AOGCM scenarios

M. D. Ananicheva1, A. N. Krenke1, and R. G. Barry2 M. D. Ananicheva et al.
  • 1Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, 119017, Russia
  • 2National Snow and Ice Data Center, CIRES, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309, USA

Abstract. We studied contrasting glacier systems in continental (Orulgan, Suntar-Khayata and Chersky) mountain ranges, located in the region of the lowest temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere at the boundary of Atlantic and Pacific influences – and maritime ones (Kamchatka Peninsula) – under Pacific influence. Our purpose is to present a simple projection method to assess the main parameters of these glacier regions under climate change. To achieve this, constructed vertical profiles of mass balance (accumulation and ablation) based both on meteorological data for the 1950–1990s (baseline period) and ECHAM4 for 2049–2060 (projected period) are used, the latter – as a climatic scenario. The observations and scenarios were used to define the recent and future equilibrium line altitude and glacier terminus altitude level for each glacier system as well as areas and balance components. The altitudinal distributions of ice areas were determined for present and future, and they were used for prediction of glacier extent versus altitude in the system taking into account the correlation between the ELA and glacier-terminus level change. We tested two hypotheses of ice distribution versus altitude in mountain (valley) glaciers – "linear" and "non-linear". The results are estimates of the possible changes of the areas and morphological structure of northeastern Asia glacier systems and their mass balance characteristics for 2049–2060. Glaciers in the southern parts of northeastern Siberia and those covering small ranges in Kamchatka will likely disappear under the ECHAM4 scenario; the best preservation of glaciers will be on the highest volcanic peaks of Kamchatka. Finally, we compare characteristics of the stability of continental and maritime glacier systems under global warming.