Mountain glacierized headwaters are currently witnessing a transient shift in their hydrological and glaciological systems in response to rapid climate change. To characterize these changes, a robust understanding of the hydrological processes operating in the basin and their interactions is needed. Such an investigation was undertaken in the Peyto Glacier Research Basin, Canadian Rockies over 32 years (1988–2020). A distributed, physically based, uncalibrated glacier hydrology model was developed using the modular, object-oriented Cold Region Hydrological Modelling Platform to simulate both on and off-glacier high mountain processes and streamflow generation. The hydrological processes that generate streamflow from this alpine basin are characterized by substantial inter-annual variability over the 32 years. Snowmelt runoff always provided the largest fraction of annual streamflow (44% to 89%), with smaller fractional contributions occurring in higher streamflow years. Ice melt runoff provided 10% to 45% of annual streamflow volume, with higher fractions associated with higher flow years. Both rainfall and firn melt runoff contributed less than 13% of annual streamflow. Years with high streamflow were on average 1.43°C warmer than low streamflow years, and higher streamflow years had lower seasonal snow accumulation, earlier snowmelt and higher summer rainfall than years with lower streamflow. Greater ice exposure in warmer, low snowfall (high rainfall) years led to greater streamflow generation. The understanding gained here provides insight into how future climate and increased meteorological variability may impact glacier meltwater contributions to streamflow and downstream water availability as alpine glaciers continue to retreat.
• A novel physically based glacier hydrological model has been developed in CRHM. • The model considers processes such as blowing snow and sublimation, avalanches, firnification, glacier mass balance and energy-budget of snow/ice. • The model was driven with both in-situ and reanalysis data and evaluated with respect to albedo, mass balance, and runoff. • The hydrology of two partially glacierized catchments was simulated without any calibration of streamflow parameters. • The long term increases in discharge are due to increased glacier ice melt. A comprehensive glacier hydrology model was developed within the Cold Regions Hydrological Modelling platform (CRHM) to include modules representing wind flow over complex terrain, blowing snow redistribution and sublimation by wind, snow redistribution by avalanches, solar irradiance to sloping surfaces, surface sublimation, glacier mass balance and runoff, meltwater and streamflow routing. The physically based glacier hydrology model created from these modules in CRHM was applied to simulate the hydrology of the instrumented, glacierized and rapidly deglaciating Peyto and Athabasca glacier research basins in the Canadian Rockies without calibration of parameters from streamflow. It was tested against observed albedo, point and aggregated glacier mass balance, and streamflow and found to successfully simulate surface albedo, snow redistribution, snow and glacier accumulation and ablation, mass balance and streamflow discharge, both when driven by in-situ observations and reanalysis forcing data. Long term modelling results indicate that the increases in discharge from the 1960s to the present are due to increased glacier ice melt contributions, despite declining precipitation and snow melt.
The cold regions hydrological modelling platform for hydrological diagnosis and prediction based on process understanding
John W. Pomeroy,
Thomas A. Brown,
Christopher B. Marsh,
Sebastian A. Krogh,
Holly J. Annand,
Journal of Hydrology, Volume 615
• Snow, glaciers, wetlands, frozen ground and permafrost needed in hydrological models. • Water quality export by coupling biochemical transformations to cold regions processes. • Hydrological sensitivity to land use depends on cold regions processes. • Strong cold regions hydrological sensitivity to climate warming. Cold regions involve hydrological processes that are not often addressed appropriately in hydrological models. The Cold Regions Hydrological Modelling platform (CRHM) was initially developed in 1998 to assemble and explore the hydrological understanding developed from a series of research basins spanning Canada and international cold regions. Hydrological processes and basin response in cold regions are simulated in a flexible, modular, object-oriented, multiphysics platform. The CRHM platform allows for multiple representations of forcing data interpolation and extrapolation, hydrological model spatial and physical process structures, and parameter values. It is well suited for model falsification, algorithm intercomparison and benchmarking, and has been deployed for basin hydrology diagnosis, prediction, land use change and water quality analysis, climate impact analysis and flood forecasting around the world. This paper describes CRHM’s capabilities, and the insights derived by applying the model in concert with process hydrology research and using the combined information and understanding from research basins to predict hydrological variables, diagnose hydrological change and determine the appropriateness of model structure and parameterisations.
Abstract. Mountain snow and ice greatly influence the hydrological cycle of alpine regions by regulating both the quantity of and seasonal variations in water availability downstream. This study considers the combined impacts of climate and glacier changes due to recession on the hydrology and water balance of two high-elevation basins in the Canadian Rockies. A distributed, physically based, uncalibrated glacier hydrology model developed in the Cold Regions Hydrological Modelling platform (CRHM) was used to simulate the glacier mass balance and basin hydrology of the Peyto and Athabasca glacier basins in Alberta, Canada. Bias-corrected reanalysis data were used to drive the model. The model calculates the water balance of glacierized basins, influenced by the surface energy and mass balance, and considers the redistribution of snow by wind and avalanches. It was set up using hydrological response units based on elevation bands, surface slope, and aspect, as well as changing land cover. Aerial photos, satellite images and digital elevation models (DEMs) were assimilated to represent the changing configurations of glacier area and the exposure of ice and firn. Observations of glacier mass balance, snow, and glacier ice surface elevation changes at glacier and alpine tundra meteorological stations and streamflow discharge at the glacier outlets were used to evaluate the model performance. Basin hydrology was simulated over two periods, 1965–1975 and 2008–2018, using the observed glacier configurations for those time periods. Both basins have undergone continuous glacier loss over the last 3 to 5 decades, leading to a 6 %–31 % reduction in glacierized area, a 78 %–109 % increase in ice exposure, and changes to the elevation and slope of the glacier surfaces. Air temperatures are increasing, mainly due to increasing winter maximum and summer minimum daily temperatures. Annual precipitation has increased by less than 11 %, but rainfall ratios have increased by 29 %–44 %. The results show that changes in both climate and glacier configuration have influenced the melt rates and runoff and a shift of peak flows in the Peyto Glacier basin from August to July. Glacier melt contributions increased/decreased from 27 %–61 % to 43 %–59 % of the annual discharges. Recent discharges were 3 %–19 % higher than in the 1960s and 1970s. The results suggest that increased exposure of glacier ice and lower surface elevation due to glacier thinning were less influential than climate warming in increasing streamflow. Streamflow from these glaciers continues to increase.
Hydrometeorological, glaciological and geospatial research data from the Peyto Glacier Research Basin in the Canadian Rockies
John W. Pomeroy,
D. Scott Munro,
J. M. Shea,
M. N. Demuth,
N. H. Kirat,
Earth System Science Data, Volume 13, Issue 6
Abstract. This paper presents hydrometeorological, glaciological and geospatial data from the Peyto Glacier Research Basin (PGRB) in the Canadian Rockies. Peyto Glacier has been of interest to glaciological and hydrological researchers since the 1960s, when it was chosen as one of five glacier basins in Canada for the study of mass and water balance during the International Hydrological Decade (IHD, 1965–1974). Intensive studies of the glacier and observations of the glacier mass balance continued after the IHD, when the initial seasonal meteorological stations were discontinued, then restarted as continuous stations in the late 1980s. The corresponding hydrometric observations were discontinued in 1977 and restarted in 2013. Datasets presented in this paper include high-resolution, co-registered digital elevation models (DEMs) derived from original air photos and lidar surveys; hourly off-glacier meteorological data recorded from 1987 to the present; precipitation data from the nearby Bow Summit weather station; and long-term hydrological and glaciological model forcing datasets derived from bias-corrected reanalysis products. These data are crucial for studying climate change and variability in the basin and understanding the hydrological responses of the basin to both glacier and climate change. The comprehensive dataset for the PGRB is a valuable and exceptionally long-standing testament to the impacts of climate change on the cryosphere in the high-mountain environment. The dataset is publicly available from Federated Research Data Repository at https://doi.org/10.20383/101.0259 (Pradhananga et al., 2020).
Abstract. This paper presents hydrometeorological, glaciological and geospatial data of the Peyto Glacier Research Basin (PGRB) in the Canadian Rockies. Peyto Glacier has been of interest to glaciological and hydrological researchers since the 1960s, when it was chosen as one of five glacier basins in Canada for the study of mass and water balance during the International Hydrological Decade (IHD, 1965–1974). Intensive studies of the glacier and observations of the glacier mass balance continued after the IHD, when the initial seasonal meteorological stations were discontinued, then restarted as continuous stations in the late 1980s. The corresponding hydrometric observations were discontinued in 1977 and restarted in 2013. Data sets presented in this paper include: high resolution, co-registered DEMs derived from original air photos and LiDAR surveys; hourly off-glacier meteorological data recorded from 1987 to present; precipitation data from nearby Bow Summit; and long-term hydrological and glaciological model forcing datasets derived from bias-corrected reanalysis products. These data are crucial for studying climate change and variability in the basin, and to understanding the hydrological responses of the basin to both glacier and climate change. The comprehensive data set for the PGRB is a valuable and exceptionally long-standing testament to the impacts of climate change on the cryosphere in the high mountain environment. The dataset is publicly available from Federated Research Data Repository at https://doi.org/10.20383/101.0259 (Pradhananga et al., 2020).