Glacier Mass Balance and Catchment-Scale Water Balance in Bolivian Andes
Tong Liu*,†, Tsuyoshi Kinouchi**, Javier Mendoza***, and Yoichi Iwami*
*International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management (ICHARM)
under the auspices of UNESCO, Public Works Research Institute
1-6, Minamihara, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8516, Japan
**School of Environment and Society, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Yokohama, Japan
***Institute of Hydraulics and Hydrology (IHH), Mayor de San Andres University (UMSA), La Paz, Bolivia
In investigating glacier mass balance and water balance at Huayna Potosi West, a glacierized basin in the Bolivian Andes (Cordillera Real), we used a remote sensing method with empirical area-volume relationships, a hydrological method with runoff coefficients, and water balance method. Results suggest that remote sensing method based on the glacier area from satellite images and area-volume relationships is too imprecise to use in performing analysis in short time intervals. Glacier mass balance obtained using a new area-volume relationship was, however, similar to that obtained by the water balance method, thus proving that the new area-volume relationship is reasonable to use for analyzing glaciers within a certain size range. The hydrological method with a runoff coefficient considered glacier as the only storage for saving or contributing to runoff and nonglacier area as the only source of evaporation. We applied a fixed runoff coefficient of 0.8 without considering wet or dry seasons in nonglacier areas – a method thus sensitive to meteorological and hydrological data. We also did not consider glacier sublimation. The water balance method is applicable to the study region and excelled other methods in terms of resolution, having no empirical coefficients, and considering sublimation and evaporation. Among its few limitations are possibly underestimating evaporation and runoff over nonglacier areas during wet months and thus possibly overestimating glacier contribution at mean time.
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