Seasonal evolution of runoff from Haut Glacier d'Arolla, Switzerland and implications for glacial geomorphic processes

D. A. Swift, P. Nienow, T. B. Hoey, Douglas Watson Fraser Mair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

38 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Statistical classification of hydrograph form is used to elucidate the controls on diurnal runoff cycle evolution at Haut Glacier d'Arolla, Switzerland during the 1998 and 1999 melt seasons. Hydrographs are objectively grouped using statistical techniques into four principal types that are qualitatively interpreted as rising, falling, peaked-falling and peaked hydrographs. Peaked hydrographs are further grouped on the basis of the magnitude of their bulk flow, baseflow and diurnal flow components. Comparison with the evolution of meltwater sources and pathways demonstrates that runoff cycles evolve systematically during the melt season in response to removal of the seasonal snowpack from the ablation area. Peaked hydrographs predominate following the onset of snowpack removal and demonstrate an increasing and progressively earlier diurnal peak, but also an unusually low baseflow component that is probably due to surface melt mainly contributing direct to subglacial channels. Runoff cycle evolution has potentially significant geomorphic implications because peaked surface runoff cycles result in the formation of hydraulically efficient, channelised subglacial drainage and a significant increase in the gradient of the relationship between suspended sediment transport and discharge. Increasingly peaked diurnal cycles also result in increased basal sediment availability, most likely related to high diurnal water pressure variation within subglacial channels that may also have enhanced rates of basal sliding and hence subglacial erosion. Differences in runoff cycle form and evolution therefore have the potential to significantly influence glacial erosion rates and sediment yields. (c) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-148
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Volume309
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2005

Keywords

  • glacier hydrology
  • snow and ice melt
  • meltwater runoff
  • subglacial drainage
  • erosion rate
  • sediment yield
  • SUBGLACIAL DRAINAGE SYSTEM
  • BASAL SEDIMENT
  • ABLATION AREA
  • TIME-SERIES
  • LOWER PART
  • HYDROLOGY
  • MOTION
  • BASIN
  • STORGLACIAREN
  • CONFIGURATION

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