Future Climate Change and Its Impact on Clean and Debris-Covered Glaciers

Sunday, February 14, 2016: 1:30 PM-4:30 PM
Marshall Ballroom South (Marriott Wardman Park)
Andrew Bush, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada
Climate change at high altitudes is a complex problem that has dramatic consequences on the quality of life for all of us at lower elevations. Increasing temperatures are forecast but so is increasing precipitation. Alpine glaciers, which rely on accumulation and are the basis for much of the world’s freshwater resources, are the silent witnesses to the currently changing climate. To predict the possible fate of our world’s alpine glaciers requires knowledge of potential climate change as well as the detailed interactions between glaciers and their environment.

I will focus on the applications of modeling techniques, which involve both global and regional models. Applications include numerical simulations for both Canadian Rocky Mountain glaciers as well as the considerable glaciers of the Himalaya, our world’s “Third Pole”. The Himalayan glaciers are influenced by the changing monsoon as well as the evolving El Niño Southern Oscillation. New techniques for interactive modeling of glaciers with their environment will be introduced. Results indicate that an initial gain in mass balance for the glaciers through enhanced snowfall will be overrun by the temperature increase within the next six decades, suggesting that only ice masses at the highest elevations will survive this century.