, Volume 123, Issue 2, pp 315-328
Date: 31 Jan 2014

Glacial mass balance changes in the Karakoram and Himalaya based on CMIP5 multi-model climate projections

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Abstract

The impact of future climate change on the glaciers in the Karakoram and Himalaya (KH) is investigated using CMIP5 multi-model temperature and precipitation projections, and a relationship between glacial accumulation-area ratio and mass balance developed for the region based on the last 30 to 40 years of observational data. We estimate that the current glacial mass balance (year 2000) for the entire KH region is -6.6 ± 1 Gta−1, which decreases about sixfold to -35 ± 2 Gta−1 by the 2080s under the high emission scenario of RCP8.5. However, under the low emission scenario of RCP2.6 the glacial mass loss only doubles to -12 ± 2 Gta−1 by the 2080s. We also find that 10.6 and 27 % of the glaciers could face ‘eventual disappearance’ by the end of the century under RCP2.6 and RCP8.5 respectively, underscoring the threat to water resources under high emission scenarios.