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Assessing the Impacts of Debris Coverage on Glaciers in the Andes
  • Emilio Mateo
Emilio Mateo
Ohio State University

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Abstract

Glaciers act as hydrologic reservoirs in mountain environments around the world. In regions that are particularly water-stressed, such as the Andes, glaciers contribute significantly to water resources in downstream communities. As these glaciers recede rapidly throughout the Andes under climatic changes, the surface composition of their ablation zones appears to be shifting from predominantly clean-ice to debris-covered ice. Determining what climatological and topographical factors control debris-coverage in the ablation zones of glaciers throughout the Andes will assist in understanding why these glaciers are becoming increasingly covered by debris and how this debris coverage will continue in the future. By exploring multiple drainage basins across the Andes, this study will discover which regions are most impacted by this transition. Debris-coverage is known to have varying impacts on the ablation rates of glaciers and likely alters the sub-glacial and pro-glacial hydrology of the drainage basin they reside in. With debris-covered glaciers becoming more prevalent across the Andes, it is imperative to gain a better understanding of the hydrology of these complex cryospheric features. Through the use of terrestrial photogrammetry and hydrological techniques, this study will investigate the controls of debris coverage and assess the hydrological impacts of this debris on glaciers throughout the Andes.