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Integrated simulation of snow and glacier melt in water and energy balance‐based, distributed hydrological modeling framework at Hunza River Basin of Pakistan Karakoram region


Energy budget-based distributed modeling of snow and glacier melt runoff is essential in a hydrologic model to accurately describe hydrologic processes in cold regions and high-altitude catchments. We developed herein an integrated modeling system with an energy budget-based multilayer scheme for clean glaciers, a single-layer scheme for debris-covered glaciers, and multilayer scheme for seasonal snow over glacier, soil, and forest within a distributed biosphere hydrological modeling framework. Model capability is demonstrated for Hunza River Basin (13,733 km2) in the Karakoram region of Pakistan on a 500m grid for 3 hydrologic years (2002–2004). Discharge simulation results show good agreement with observations (Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency = 0.93). Flow composition analysis reveals that the runoff regime is strongly controlled by the snow and glacier melt runoff (50% snowmelt and 33% glacier melt). Pixel-by-pixel evaluation of the simulated spatial distribution of snow-covered area against Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer-derived 8 day maximum snow cover extent data indicates that the areal extent of snow cover is reproduced well, with average accuracy 84% and average absolute bias 7%. The 3 year mean value of net mass balance (NMB) was estimated at +0.04myr-1. It is interesting that individual glaciers show similar characteristics of NMB over 3 years, suggesting that both topography and glacier hypsometry play key roles in glacier mass balance. This study provides a basis for potential application of such an integrated model to the entire Hindu-Kush-Karakoram-Himalaya region toward simulating snow and glacier hydrologic processes within a water and energy balance-based, distributed hydrological modeling framework.

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