Simulations of changes to Glaciar Zongo (Bolivia)

Written by Olivier Gagliardini.

zongoBolivian glaciers are an essential source of fresh water for the Altiplano, and any changes they may undergo in the near future due to ongoing climate change are of particular concern. Glaciar Zongo, Bolivia, located near the administrative capital La Paz, has been extensively monitored by the GLACIOCLIM observatory in the last two decades. Here we model the glacier dynamics using the 3-D full-Stokes model Elmer/Ice. The model was calibrated and validated over a recent period (1997–2010) using four independent datasets: available observations of surface velocities and surface mass balance were used for calibration, and changes in surface elevation and retreat of the glacier front were used for validation. Over the validation period, model outputs are in good agreement with observations (differences less than a small percentage). The future surface mass balance is assumed to depend on the equilibrium-line altitude (ELA) and temperature changes through the sensitivity of ELA to temperature. The model was then forced for the 21st century using temperature changes projected by nine Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5) models. Here we give results for three different representative concentration pathways (RCPs). The intermediate scenario RCP6.0 led to 69+/-7% volume loss by 2100, while the two extreme scenarios, RCP2.6 and RCP8.5, led to 40+/-7% and 89+/-4% loss of volume, respectively.

Réveillet M., A. Rabatel, F. Gillet-Chaulet and A. Soruco, 2015. Simulations of changes to Glaciar Zongo, Bolivia (16°S), over the 21st century using a 3-D full-Stokes model and CMIP5 climate projections, Annals of Glaciol., 56(70), p. 89-97, doi: 10.3189/2015AoG70A113.

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