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

  • 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 date: 2005-10-30

  Revised date: 2005-11-20

  Online published: 2006-01-25

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


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.

Cite this article

ZHANG Yong, LIU Shiyin, DING Yongjian . Spatial Variation of Degree-day Factors on the Observed Glaciers in Western China[J]. Acta Geographica Sinica, 2006 , 61(1) : 89 -98 . DOI: 10.11821/xb200601009


[1] Kang Ersi, Yang Zhenniang, Lai Zuming et al. Runoff of snow and ice meltwater and mountainous rivers. In: Shi Yafeng et al. (eds.), Glaciers and Their Environments in China: The Present, Past and Future. Beijing: Science Press, 2000. 190-205.
[康尔泗, 杨针娘, 赖祖铭 等. 冰川融水径流和山区河川径流. 见: 施雅风 等, 中国冰川与环境: 现在、过去和未来. 北京, 科学出版社, 2000. 190-205.]

[2] Jansson P, Hock R, Schneider T. The concept of glacier storage: a review. Journal of Hydrology, 2003, 282: 116-129.

[3] Yao Tandong, Wang Youqing, Liu Shiyin et al. Recent glacial retreat in high Asia in China and its impact on water resources in Northwest China. Science in China (Series D), 2004, 47(12): 1065-1075.

[4] Shi Yafeng. China Glacier Inventory (CGI). Shanghai: Shanghai Kexuepuji Press, 2005. 162-163.
[施雅风. 简明中国冰川目录. 上海: 上海科学普及出版社, 2005. 162-163.]

[5] Liu Changming, Fu Guobin, Li Lijuan. Water resources and ecological and enbironmental systems construction in West China. Bulletin of Mineralogy, Petrology and Geochemistry, 2002, 21(1): 7-11.
[刘昌明, 傅国斌, 李丽娟. 西部水资源与环境建设. 矿物岩石地球化学通报, 2002, 21(1):7-11.]

[6] Hock R. Temperature index melt modeling in mountain areas. Journal of Glaciology, 2003, 282: 104-115.

[7] Hock R. Glacier melt: a review on processes and their modelling. Progress in Physical Geography, 2005, 29(3): 362-391.

[8] US Army Corps of Engineers. Runoff evaluation and streamflow simulation by computer. Part-II, US Army Corps of Engineers, North Pacific Division, Portland, Oregon, USA, 1971.

[9] WMO. Intercomparison of models for snowmelt runoff. Operational Hydrology Report 23(WMO No.646), 1986.

[10] Krenke A N, V G Khodakov. On the correlation between glacier melting and air temperature. Materialy Glyatsiologicheskikh Issledovanii, Khronika, Obsuzhdeniya, 1966, 12: 153-164.

[11] Ambach W. Heat balance characteristics and ice ablation, western EGIG-profile, Greenland, Seventh Northern Research Basins Symposium/Workshop: Applied Hydrology in the Development of Northern Basins, May 25-June 1, Copenhagen Danish Society for Arctic Technology, Ililissat, Greenland, 1988. 59-70.

[12] Braithwaite R J. Positive degree-day factor for ablation on the Greenland ice sheet studied by energy: balance modeling. Journal of Glaciology, 1995, 41(137): 153-160.

[13] Finsterwalder S, H Schunk. Der Suldenferner. Zeitschrift des Deutschen und Oesterreichischen Alpenvereins, 1887, 18: 72-89.

[14] Clyde G D. Snow-melting characteristics. Utah Agricultural Experiment Station Bull., 1931, 231: 1-23.

[15] Collins E H. Relationship of degree-day above freezing to runoff. Trans. Am. Geophys. Union, Reports and Papers, Hydrology, 1934, 624-629.

[16] Corps of Engineers. Summary report of the snow investigations, snow hydrology. US Army Engineer Division (North Pacific, 210 Custom House, Portland, Oregon), 1956, 437.

[17] Hoinkes H C, H Steinacker. Hydrometeorological implications of the mass balance of Hintereisferner, 1952-53 to 1968-69. Proceedings of the snow and ice symposium, Moscow 1971, IAHS Publ., 1975, 104: 144-149.

[18] Jóhannesson T, O Sigurdsson, T Laumann et al. Degree-day glacier mass-balance modeling with applications to glaciers in Iceland, Norway and Greenland. Journal of Glaciology, 1995, 41(151): 345-358.

[19] Oerlemans J, B Anderson, A Hubbard et al. Modelling the response of glaciers to climate warming. Climate Dynamics, 1998, 14: 267-274.

[20] Braithwaite R J, Y Zhang. Modelling changes in glacier mass balance that may occur as a result of climate changes. Geografiska Annaler, 1999, 81A (4): 489-496.

[21] Braithwaite R J, Y Zhang. Sensitivity of mass balance of five glaciers to temperature changes assessed by tuning a degree-day model. Journal of Glaciology, 2000, 46(152): 7-14.

[22] Hock R. A distributed temperature-index ice and snowmelt model including potential direct solar radiation. Journal of Glaciology, 1999, 45(149): 101-111.

[23] Liu Shiyin, Xie Zichu, Song Guoping, et al. Mass balance Kangwure (flat-top) Glacier on the north side of Mt.Xixiabangma, China. Bulletin of Glacier Research, 1996, 14: 37-43.

[24] Liu Shiying, Ding Yongjian, Ye Baisheng et al. Study on the mass balance of the Glacier No.1 at the headwaters of the Urumqi River using degree-day method. Proceeding of the Fifth Chinese Conference on Glaciology and Geocryology (vol.1), 1996. 197-204.
[刘时银, 丁永建, 叶佰生 等. 度日因子用于乌鲁木齐河源1号冰川物质平衡计算的研究. 第五届全国冰川冻土学大会论文集 (上册), 1996. 197-204.]

[25] Liu Shiying, Ding Yongjian, Wang Ninglian et al. Mass balance sensitivity to climate change of the Glacier No.1 at the Urumqi River head, Tianshan Mts. Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology, 1998, 20(1): 9-13.
[刘时银, 丁永建, 王宁练 等. 天山乌鲁木齐河源1号冰川物质平衡对气候变化的敏感性研究. 冰川冻土, 1998, 20(1): 9-13.]

[26] Kayastha R B, Yutaka Ageta, Masayoshi Nakawo et al. Positive degree-day factors for ice ablation on four glaciers in the Nepalese Himalayas and Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Bulletin of Glaciological Research, 2003, 20: 7-14.

[27] Bergstr?m S. Development and application of a conceptual runoff model for Scandinavian catchments. Department of Water Resources Engineering, Lund Institute of Technology/University of Lund, Bulletin Series A, 1976, 52: 134.

[28] Martinec J, A Rango. Parameter values for snowmelt runoff modelling. Journal of Hydrology, 1986, 84: 197-219.

[29] Quick M C, A Pipes. UBC watershed model. Hydrol. Sci. Bull., 1977, 221: 153-161.

[30] B?ggild C E, C J Knudby, M B. Knudsen et al. Snowmelt and runoff modelling of an arctic hydrological basin in east Greenland. Hydrol. Proc., 1999, 13: 1989-2002.

[31] Tangborn W V. Prediction of glacier derived runoff for hydro-electric development. Geografiska Annaler, 1984, 66A(3): 257-265.

[32] Schreider S Y, P H Whetton, A J Jakeman et al. Runoff modelling for snow-affected catchments in the Australian alpine region, eastern Victoria. Journal of Hydrology, 1997, 200: 1-23.

[33] Arendt A, M Sharp. Energy balance measurements on a Canadian high arctic glacier and their implications for mass balance modeling. In: Tranter M et al. (eds.), Interactions between the Cryosphere, Climate and Greenhouse Gases, Proceedings of the IUGG Symposium, Birmingham 1999: IAHS Publ., 1999, 256: 165-172.

[34] Braun L N, W Grabs, B Rana. Application of a conceptual precipitation-runoff model in the Langtang Khola basin, Nepal Himalaya. In: Young G J (ed.), Snow and Glacier Hydrology, Proceedings of the Kathmandu Symposium 1992: IAHS Publ., 1993, 218: 221-237.

[35] Rigaudière P, P Ribstein, B Francou et al. Un modèle hydrologique du glacier du Zongo. Rapport No.44, ORSTOM, Bolivie., 1995, 90.

[36] Singh P, N Kumar. Determination of snowmelt factor in the Himalayan region. Hydrol. Sci. J., 1996, 41(3): 301-310.

[37] Ohmura A. Physical basis for the temperature-based melt index method. J. Appl. Meterol., 2001, 40: 753-761.

[38] Yao Tandong, Y Ageta et al. Glaciological climate and environment on Qingzang Plateau: the China-Japan Joint Glaciological Expedition to Qingzang Plateau, 1989. Beijing: Science Press, 1993. 60-68.
[姚檀栋, 上田丰 等. 青藏高原冰川气候与环境: 1989年中日青藏高原冰川考察研究. 北京: 科学出版社, 1993. 60-68.]

[39] Zhang Jinhua, Bai Chongyuan. The surface ablation and its variation of the Batura Glacier. In: Professional papers on the Batura Glacier, Karakoram Mountains. Beijing: Science Press, 1980. 83-98.
[张金华, 白重瑗. 巴托拉冰川的冰面消融及其变化. 见: 喀喇昆仑山巴托拉冰川考察与研究. 北京: 科学出版社, 1980. 83-98.]

[40] Zhang Xiangsong, Zhou Yuchao et al. Glaciers and Environment of the Yarkant River, Karakorum Mountains. Beijing: Science Press, 1991. 43-52.
[张祥松, 周聿超 等. 喀喇昆仑山叶尔羌河冰川与环境. 北京: 科学出版社, 1991. 43-52.]

[41] Mountaineering and Expedition Team of Chinese Academy of Sciences. Glacial and Weather in Mt. Tuomuer District, Tianshan. Urumchi: Xinjiang People's Publishing House, 1985. 99-109.
[中国科学院登山考察队. 天山托木尔峰地区的冰川与气象. 乌鲁木齐: 新疆人民出版社, 1985. 99-109.]

[42] Su Zhen et al. Glaciers and Environment of Karakorum-Kunlun Mountains. Beijing: Science Press, 1998. 38-56.
[苏珍 等. 喀喇昆仑山-昆仑山地区冰川与环境. 北京: 科学出版社, 1998. 38-56.]

[43] Li Jijun, Su Zhen et al. Glaciers in the Hengduan Mountains. Beijing: Science Press, 1996. 70-110.
[李吉均,苏珍. 横断山冰川. 北京: 科学出版社, 1996. 70-110.]

[44] Li Xin, Cheng Guodong, Lu Ling. Comparison study of spatial interpolation methods of air temperature over Qinghai-Xizang Plateau. Plateau Meteorology, 2003, 22(6): 565-573.
[李新, 程国栋, 卢玲. 青藏高原气温分布的空间插值方法比较. 高原气象, 2003, 22(6):565-573.]

[45] Kustas W P, A Rango, R Uijlenhoet. A simple energy budget algorithm for the snowmelt runoff model. Water Resour. Res., 1994, 30(5): 1515-1527.

[46] Braithwaite R J, T Konzelmann C Marty, O B Olesen. Errors in daily ablation measurements in northern Greenland, 1993-94, and their implications for glacier climate studies. Journal of Glaciology, 1998, 44 (148): 583-588.

[47] Zhang Yong. Degree-day model and its application to the simulation of glacier ablation and runoff on Glacier Keqicar Baqi, southwest Tianshan. Master Thesis. Graduate of Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, CAS, 2005. 58-59.
[张勇. 度日模型在西南天山科其卡尔巴契冰川消融及融水径流模拟研究中的应用. 中国科学院寒区旱区环境与工程研究所硕士毕业论文, 2005. 58-59.]

[48] Braithwaite R J, O B Olesen. Seasonal variation of ice ablation at the margin of the Greenland ice sheet and its sensitivity to climate change, Qamanarssup sermia, West Greenland. Journal of Glaciology, 1993, 39(132): 967-974.

[49] Kuusisto E. On the values and variability of degree-day melting factors in Finland. Nord. Hydrol., 1980, 11 (5): 235-242.

[50] Bai Chongyuan. A study of relationship between climate and mountain glaciers. Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology, 1989, 11(4): 287-297.
[白重瑗. 冰川与气候的关系. 冰川冻土, 1989, 11(4): 287-297.]

[51] Zhang Yong, Liu Shiyin, Han Haidong et al. Characteristics of summer climate on Keqicar Glacier, south of Tianshan Mountain. Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology, 2004, 26(5): 545-550.
[张勇, 刘时银, 韩海东 等. 天山南坡科其卡尔巴契冰川消融期气候特征分析. 冰川冻土, 2004, 26(5): 545-550.]

[52] Shi Yafeng, Liu Shiyin, 1999. Estimation of the response of the glaciers in China to the global warming in the 21st century. Chinese Science Bulletin, 45(7): 668-672.

[53] Xie Yingqin. Autumn heat balance in the ablation area of Hailuogou Glacier. In: Xie Zichu, Kotlyakov V M (eds.), Glaciers and Environment in the Qinghai-Xizang
[Tibet] Plateau (1): The Gongga Mountain. Beijing: Science Press, 1994. 94-109.

[54] ?strem G. Ice melting under a thin layer of moraine and the existence of ice cores in moraine ridges. Geografiska Annualer, 1959, 41(4): 228-230.

[55] Rana B, M Nakawo, Y Fukushima et al. Application of a conceptual precipitation-runoff model (HYCYMODEL) in a debris-covered glacierised basin in the Langtang Valley, Nepal Himalaya. Annals of Glaciology, 1997, 25: 226-231.

[56] Zhang Yong, Liu Shiyin, Shangguan Donghui et al. Positive degree-day factor for Keqicar Baqi Glacier, south of Tianshan. Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology, 2005, 27(3): 337-343.
[张勇, 刘时银, 上官冬辉 等. 天山南坡科其卡尔巴契冰川度日因子变化特征研究. 冰川冻土, 2005, 27(3): 337-343.]