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Title: Debris-covered glaciers in the European Alps : from the glacier to the mountain range scale
Author: Lardeux, Pierre
ISNI:       0000 0004 9358 2942
Awarding Body: Aberystwyth University
Current Institution: Aberystwyth University
Date of Award: 2017
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Like in other mountain ranges around the world (the Southern Alps, the Himalayas and the Rockies), glaciers in the European Alps are a major source of fresh water for human usage and actively contribute to sea-level rise. Among European Alpine glaciers, this study shows that 12% are debris-covered, representing 54% in ice volume. Debris-covered glaciers are those presenting a layer of rock debris on their surface. This debris layer has an insulation effect on the glacier, which influences the response to climate change of this type of glacier. However, little is known about their long-term historical evolution and their future behaviour in the face of climate change. By directly comparing debris-covered glaciers and clean-ice glaciers at several different spatial and temporal scales, this study shows the large impact that debriscovered glaciers have on the Alpine cryosphere. On a glacier-wide scale, this study shows that, over 200 years, a debris-covered glacier (Glacier Noir in the French Alps) has retreated 21% less than an adjacent clean-ice glacier (Glacier Blanc) under the same climatic conditions (a temperature rise of minimum 2°C since the 1960s). On the scale of the European Alps, this study shows that debris-covered glaciers will extend the water supply of 145 million inhabitants. By the middle of the 21st century, debris-covered glaciers will contribute more than 22% of the total glacier runoff from the Alps, with a slower release than clean-ice glaciers. The importance of debris-covered glaciers in terms of behaviour and quantity could change the way they are represented in numerical models and could also change forecasts of the fate of glaciers in the European Alps under future climate scenarios.
Supervisor: Glasser, Neil ; Holt, Tom ; Hubbard, Bryn Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available