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

Maheswor Shrestha, Toshio Koike, Yukiko Hirabayashi, Yongkang Xue, Lei Wang, Ghulam Rasul, Bashir Ahmad

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36 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4889-4919
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jan 1


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

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