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Understanding snow, glacier and rivers response to climate in High Mountain Asia (ASCENT)

English title Understanding snow, glacier and rivers response to climate in High Mountain Asia (ASCENT)
Applicant Pellicciotti Francesca
Number 189890
Funding scheme Bilateral programmes
Research institution Swiss Federal Research Inst. WSL Direktion
Institution of higher education Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research - WSL
Main discipline Hydrology, Limnology, Glaciology
Start/End 01.03.2020 - 29.02.2024
Approved amount 314'248.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Hydrology, Limnology, Glaciology
Climatology. Atmospherical Chemistry, Aeronomy

Keywords (25)

Snow-seasonality; Hydrological-modelling; Tibetan-Plateau; Snow-quantity; Debris-covered-glaciers; Snow-Ice-Remote-Sensing; Climate-simulations; Glacier-hydrology; High-Mountain-Hydrology; Snow-processes; Glacier-mass-balance-models; Glacier-runoff; Snowcover-dynamics; Multi-scale; Himalaya; Regional-Climate-Models; Downscaling; Snow-patterns; SnowModel; Climate-models; WRF-modeling; Energy-balance-modelling; High mountain precipitation; High-Mountain-Asia; Glacier-mass-balance

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Gletscher in Hochasien stellen weltweit die grösste Eismasse ausserhalb der Pole dar und sind eine wichtige Wasserquelle für eine Millionenbevölkerung entlang der grossen Asiatischen Flüsse. Diese Studie baut auf unsere laufende Forschung auf, deren Fokus auf einzelnen Aspekten der Gletscher und der Hydrologie Hochasiens liegt, und versucht ein ganzheitliches Verständnis davon zu entwickeln, wie Hochasiens Oberläufe, Gletscher, Abflussraten und Landflächen auf ein wärmeres Klima reagieren.
Lay summary

In diesem Projekt untersuchen wir drei Hauptunbekannte: i) Niederschlag im Hochgebirge; ii) Schnee und dessen räumliche Variabilität; und iii) Die Rolle schuttbedeckter Gletscher im Wasserkreislauf. Dafür werden wir Schneeprozesse und die Dynamik von schuttbedeckten Gletschern, gewonnen aus Beobachtungen und lokalskaligen Modellierungen, in ein neues, umfassendes Hochgebirgshydrologie-Modell einbauen. Dieses umfassende Modell verwenden wir, um das Verhalten von Gletschern, Schneeschmelz- und Schneefallmuster, Rückkoppelungseffekte der Vegetation, sowie Abflussraten in ausgewählten Einzugsgebieten quer durch die Vielfalt an Gletscher- und Klimaeigenschaften Hochasiens zu simulieren. Damit werden wir die Lücke zwischen einzelnen lokalen Studien und gross-skaligen Simulationen schliessen.

Dieses Projekt wird von Synergien zu bestehenden Projekten der Schweizer und Chinesischen Projektpartner profitieren, während der Austausch von Daten sowie die Zusammenarbeit innerhalb eines weiten Netzwerkes internationaler Experten gross geschrieben wird.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 27.02.2020

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Gesuchsteller/innen Ausland

Project partner

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
146761 Understanding Contrasts in High Mountain Hydrology in Asia (UNCOMUN) 01.12.2013 Project funding (Div. I-III)
183633 High elevation precipitation in High Mountain Asia 01.11.2019 Bilateral programmes

Abstract

One of the most important questions of climate change impact research today is how glaciers are responding to global warming. High Mountain Asia (HMA) glaciers represent the largest mass of ice outside the Polar Regions and provide water resources for millions of people in the headwaters of the major Asian rivers. Nevertheless, their historical changes and future trends are unclear, due to a scarcity of direct observations and fundamental limitations in simulation models. This project will provide a step-change in our understanding of the response of HMA glaciers and runoff to a warming climate by solving some of the remaining unknowns in HMA glaciers and catchment response to climate: i) precipitation amounts at high elevation; ii) spatial variability of precipitation and snow; and iii) debris-covered glaciers. We will incorporate knowledge of snow processes and debris-covered glaciers dynamics obtained from detailed, local-scale process-based modelling and observations into a new model of glacier mass balance and high mountain hydrology. The new model will be informed by novel observations of glacier surface characteristics, glacier changes and hydrology and forced with high resolution climatic input generated by two new international efforts to run high resolution climate models over the entire HMA. The model will then be used to simulate glacier response and unravel the hydrological functioning of selected catchments across the wide variety of climates and glacier characteristics of HMA, bridging the scale gap between single point scale studies and very large simulations that up to now relied on simplistic model assumptions. The project will provide a new physical basis for the distinct patterns of glacier changes in HMA that have been suggested recently but lack explanations, having been inferred from sparse observations or derived from remote sensing studies. This project capitalises on data, established links of collaboration and ongoing modelling from large research efforts and joint ongoing projects by the Swiss and Chinese applicants, who have been collaborating with complementary expertise to study selected processes and glaciers in the region. In this new project, we have assembled a unique team of world-leading international partners that will provide datasets and expertise for a timely and novel synthesis of glacier, snow and river response across HMA climatic gradients and scales. We have made a major effort to go beyond disciplinary approaches and expertises and merge them into a truly integrated synthesis of both datasets and modelling efforts to establish the scientific evidence of glacier and runoff changes beyond single case studies. We are truly pleased by the interest and support by this large network of international partners and the opportunity to combine ongoing research efforts to address a novel programme of synthesis of knowledge in HMA.
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