We project glacier surface mass balances of the Altai Mountains over the period 2006–2100 for the representative concentration pathway (RCP) 4.5 and RCP8.5 scenarios using daily near-surface air temperature and precipitation from 12 global climate models in combination with a surface mass balance model. The results indicate that the Altai glaciers will undergo sustained mass loss throughout the 21st for both RCPs and reveal the future fate of glaciers of different sizes. By 2100, glacier area in the region will shrink by 26 ± 10 % for RCP4.5, while it will shrink by 60 ± 15 % for RCP8.5. According to our simulations, most disappearing glaciers are located in the western part of the Altai Mountains. For RCP4.5, all glaciers disappearing in the twenty-first century have a present-day size smaller than 5.0 km2, while for RCP8.5, an additional ~7 % of glaciers in the initial size class of 5.0–10.0 km2 also vanish. We project different trends in the total meltwater discharge of the region for the two RCPs, which does not peak before 2100, with important consequences for regional water availability, particular for the semi-arid and arid regions. This further highlights the potential implications of change in the Altai glaciers on regional hydrology and environment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas