Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2006, Vol. 61 ›› Issue (1): 89-98.doi: 10.11821/xb200601009

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Spatial Variation of Degree-day Factors on the Observed Glaciers in Western China

ZHANG Yong1, LIU Shiyin1,2, DING Yongjian1   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Cryosphere and Environment, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, CAS, Lanzhou 730000, China;
    2. Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, CAS, Beijing 100029, China
  • Received:2005-10-30 Revised:2005-11-20 Online:2006-01-25 Published:2010-09-06
  • Supported by:

    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.90202013; No.40371026; Knowledge Innovation Project of CAS, No.KZCX3-SW-345; No.KZCX3-SW-339

Abstract:

Degree-day factor is an important parameter of degree-day model which is a widely used method for ice and snow melt computation. Spatial variations of a degree-day factor have great impacts on the accuracy of snow or ice melt modeling. This paper analyzes the spatial variability characteristics of the degree-day factors obtained from the observed glaciers of different regions in western China. Results clearly show that the regional patterns of the degree-day factors are detectable on the observed glaciers of western China due to the unique climatic environment and heat budget of the Tibetan Plateau and the surrounding areas; the factors of maritime glaciers are higher than those of the sub-continental and extremely continental glaciers because of the ablation area covered with a thin debris layer in the maritime glacier; for a single glacier, the degree-day factors are subject to significant small-scale variations. In general, the regional patterns of the degree-day factors are detectable on observed glaciers due to the unique climatic environment and heat budget of the Tibetan Plateau and the surrounding areas. Low degree-day factors can be expected for cold-dry areas, whereas, high degree-day factors can be expected for warm-wet areas in western China.

Key words: glacier, melt, degree-day factor, western China