17 May 2022
17 May 2022
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Coupling a global glacier model to a global hydrological model prevents underestimation of glacier runoff

Pau Wiersma1,2, Jerom Aerts1, Harry Zekollari3,4, Markus Hrachowitz1, Niels Drost5, Matthias Huss6,7,8, Edwin H. Sutanudjaja9, and Rolf Hut1 Pau Wiersma et al.
  • 1Department of Water Management, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Delft University of Technology, Delft, the Netherlands
  • 2Institute of Earth Surface Dynamics, Faculty of Geosciences and Environment, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
  • 3Department of Geoscience and Remote Sensing, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Delft University of Technology, Delft, the Netherlands
  • 4Laboratoire de Glaciologie, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium
  • 5Netherlands eScience Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • 6Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology (VAW), ETH Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland
  • 7Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), Birmensdorf, Switzerland
  • 8Department of Geosciences, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland
  • 9Department of Physical Geography, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands

Abstract. Global hydrological models have become a valuable tool for a range of global impact studies related to water resources. However, glacier parameterization is often simplistic or non-existent in global hydrological models. By contrast, global glacier models do represent complex glacier dynamics and glacier evolution, and as such hold the promise of better resolving glacier runoff estimates. In this study, we test the hypothesis that coupling a global glacier model with a global hydrological model leads to a more realistic glacier representation and consequently an improved runoff prediction in the global hydrological model. To this end, the Global Glacier Evolution Model (GloGEM) is coupled with the global hydrological model PCR-GLOBWB 2 using the eWaterCycle platform. For the period 2001–2012, the coupled model is evaluated against the uncoupled PCR-GLOBWB 2 in 25 large-scale (>50.000 km2) glacierized basins. The coupled model produces higher runoff estimates across all basins and throughout the melt season. In summer, the runoff differences range from 0.07 % for weakly glacier-influenced basins to 252 % for strongly glacier-influenced basins. The difference can primarily be explained by PCR- GLOBWB 2 not accounting for glacier flow and glacier mass loss, thereby causing an underestimation of glacier runoff. The coupled model performs better in reproducing basin runoff observations mostly in strongly glacier-influenced basins, which is where the coupling has the most impact. This study underlines the importance of glacier representation in global hydrological models and demonstrates the potential of coupling a global hydrological model with a global glacier model for better glacier representation and runoff predictions in glacierized basins.

Pau Wiersma et al.

Status: open (until 12 Jul 2022)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-106', Anonymous Referee #1, 20 Jun 2022 reply

Pau Wiersma et al.

Data sets

GHMGGM data Pau Wiersma

Model code and software

GHMGGM code Pau Wiersma

Pau Wiersma et al.


Total article views: 317 (including HTML, PDF, and XML)
HTML PDF XML Total Supplement BibTeX EndNote
227 82 8 317 27 5 7
  • HTML: 227
  • PDF: 82
  • XML: 8
  • Total: 317
  • Supplement: 27
  • BibTeX: 5
  • EndNote: 7
Views and downloads (calculated since 17 May 2022)
Cumulative views and downloads (calculated since 17 May 2022)

Viewed (geographical distribution)

Total article views: 278 (including HTML, PDF, and XML) Thereof 278 with geography defined and 0 with unknown origin.
Country # Views %
  • 1
Latest update: 02 Jul 2022
Short summary
In this study, we tested whether coupling a global glacier model (GloGEM) with a global hydrological model (PCR-GLOBWB 2) leads to a more realistic glacier representation and consequently improved runoff predictions in the global hydrological model. While the coupling did not lead to improved runoff predictions across all of the 25 considered large-scale basins, we provide evidence that it does prevent the underestimation of glacier runoff and thereby prove the feasibility of this approach.