Debris-covered glaciers occur worldwide in glacierized mountain ranges (Antarctica Dry Valleys, Canadian Arctic, European Alps, the Rockies) especially where active tectonics drive high rates of rock uplift and intense surface processes (the Alaska Range, the Andes, the Himalaya, Karakoram, Pamir and the Southern Alps). Supraglacial debris fundamentally alters the surface energy balance and consequently the mass balance of the glacier, and modifies its response to climate change. The dynamics of these glaciers differ from those of clean-ice glaciers, generally leading to mass loss by downwasting rather than recession, surge-type behaviour and the formation of supraglacial and proglacial lakes. In many mountain ranges, the area of debris-covered ice is increasing as glaciers recede, but observing and understanding debris-covered glacier processes and depositional records is challenging, and many unanswered questions remain about the controls on these glaciers.
This session draws together knowledge on all aspects of debris-covered glaciers worldwide, and we invite contributions including, but not limited to: the formation and characteristics of supraglacial debris; field measurements of debris-covered glacier energy balance, mass balance, hydrology and dynamics; remote-sensing observations and numerical modelling of debris-covered glaciers and prediction of glacier change in response to climate change; depositional records of debris-covered glaciers and reconstructions of former glaciers and their climatic interpretations; the development of hazards associated with debris-covered glaciers such as glacier lake outburst floods or debris flows.