01 Apr 2021

01 Apr 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Brief communication: Growth and decay of an Ice Stupa in alpine conditions: a simple model driven by energy-flux observations over a glacier surface

Johannes Oerlemans1, Suryanarayanan Balasubramanian2, Conradin Clavuot3, and Felix Keller4,5 Johannes Oerlemans et al.
  • 1Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, Utrecht University, Princetonplein 5, Utrecht, 3585CC, The Netherlands
  • 2University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland
  • 3Architecture Clavuot, Gäugelistrasse 49, Chur 7000, Switzerland
  • 4Academia Engiadina, Samedan, Switzerland
  • 5ETH, Zürich, Switzerland

Abstract. We present a simple tool to calculate the evolution of an ice stupa (artificial ice reservoir). The model is formulated for a cone geometry and driven by energy balance measurements over a glacier surface for a 5-year period. An “exposure factor” is introduced to deal with the fact that an ice stupa has a very rough surface and is more exposed to wind than a flat glacier surface. The exposure factor enhances the turbulent fluxes.

For characteristic alpine conditions at 2100 m, a stupa may reach a height of typically 6 to 10 m in early spring and obtain a volume of 100 to 250 m3 . We also discuss a case where the stupa grows on an inner structure.

We show sensitivites of stupa height to temperature changes and exposure factor. Effects of snow cover, switching off water during daytime, different starting dates, etc. can easily be evaluated.

Johannes Oerlemans et al.

Status: open (until 27 May 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on tc-2021-54', Jonathan D Mackay, 08 Apr 2021 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on tc-2021-54', Anonymous Referee #2, 16 Apr 2021 reply

Johannes Oerlemans et al.

Johannes Oerlemans et al.


Total article views: 270 (including HTML, PDF, and XML)
HTML PDF XML Total BibTeX EndNote
208 56 6 270 0 1
  • HTML: 208
  • PDF: 56
  • XML: 6
  • Total: 270
  • BibTeX: 0
  • EndNote: 1
Views and downloads (calculated since 01 Apr 2021)
Cumulative views and downloads (calculated since 01 Apr 2021)

Viewed (geographical distribution)

Total article views: 260 (including HTML, PDF, and XML) Thereof 260 with geography defined and 0 with unknown origin.
Country # Views %
  • 1
Latest update: 23 Apr 2021
Short summary
An ice stupa is a cone-like ice mass storing water in the form of ice. By sprinkling water on the cone during cold conditions an ice stupa can grown to achieve an appreciable mass (typically 1 million kg), and release this in spring and summer in the form of melt water. In Ladakh ice stupas are currently used more and more for irrigation purposes. We present a simple model with which the rate of growth and decay of a stupa can be calculated for given climatic conditions.