20 Jan 2022
20 Jan 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

11-year record of wintertime snow surface energy balance and sublimation at 4863 m a.s.l. on Chhota Shigri Glacier moraine (western Himalaya, India)

Arindan Mandal1, Thupstan Angchuk1,2, Mohd Farooq Azam3, Alagappan Ramanathan1, Patrick Wagnon4, Mohd Soheb1, and Chetan Singh1 Arindan Mandal et al.
  • 1Schola of Environmental Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi 110067, India
  • 2DST's Centre of Excellence, Department of Geology, Sikkim University, Gangtok 737102, India
  • 3Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Indore, Simrol 453552, India
  • 4Université Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, IRD, IGE, F-38000 Grenoble, France

Abstract. Analysis of surface energy balance (SEB) at the glacier surface is the most comprehensive way to explain the atmosphere-glacier interactions but that requires extensive data. In this study, we analyse an 11-year (2009–2020) record of the meteorological dataset from an automatic weather station installed at 4863 m a.s.l., on a lateral moraine of the Chhota Shigri Glacier in the western Himalaya. The study was carried out over the winter months (December to April) to understand SEB drivers and snow sublimation. Further, we examine the role of cloud cover on SEB and turbulent heat fluxes. The turbulent heat fluxes were calculated using the bulk-aerodynamic method, including stability corrections. The net short-wave radiation was the primary energy source. However, the turbulent heat fluxes dissipated a significant amount of energy. The cloud cover plays an important role in limiting the incoming short-wave radiation by 70 %. It also restricts the turbulent heat fluxes by around 50 %, consequently less snow sublimation. During the winter period, turbulent latent heat flux contributed the largest (63 %) in the total SEB, followed by net all-wave radiation (29 %) and sensible heat flux (8 %). Sublimation rates were three times higher in clear-sky conditions than overcast, indicating a strong control of cloud cover in turbulent latent heat flux. Dry air, along with the high snow surface temperature and wind speed, favours sublimation. We also observed that strong and cold winds, possibly through mid-latitude western disturbances, impede sublimation by bringing high moisture content in the region and cooling the snow surface. The estimated snow sublimation fraction was 16–42 % of the total winter snowfall at the study site. This indicates snow sublimation is an essential parameter to be considered in the glaciohydrological modelling at the high mountain Himalayan catchments.

Arindan Mandal et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • CC1: 'Comment on tc-2021-386', Suryanarayanan Balasubramanian, 27 Jan 2022
  • RC1: 'Comment on tc-2021-386', Anonymous Referee #1, 15 Feb 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on tc-2021-386', Anonymous Referee #2, 23 Feb 2022

Arindan Mandal et al.

Arindan Mandal et al.


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Short summary
Snow sublimation is an important component of glacier surface mass balance; however, seldom studied in detail in the Himalayan region owing to data scarcity. We present an 11-year long wintertime snow surface energy balance and sublimation characteristics at the Chhota Shigri Glacier moraine site at 4863 m a.s.l. The estimated winter sublimation is 16–42 % of the winter snowfall at the study site, which signifies how sublimation is important in the Himalayan region.