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168 Hydrology of Glacierized Basins

Part 14. Snow and Glacier Hydrology

  1. Ian Willis

Published Online: 15 APR 2006

DOI: 10.1002/0470848944.hsa174

Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences

Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences

How to Cite

Willis, I. 2006. Hydrology of Glacierized Basins. Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences. 14:168.

Author Information

  1. University of Cambridge, Department of Geography, Cambridge, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2006


The presence of snow and ice and the lack of vegetation and soil make the hydrology of glacierized basins very different to that of equivalent nonglacierized basins. This article discusses how the characteristics of glacierized basins control their runoff regime and its interannual, intraannual, and intraseasonal variability. The magnitudes and patterns of seasonal water storage and release associated with the snowpack, firn layers, and englacial and subglacial drainage systems are also considered. The controls on flooding in glacierized catchments are discussed with specific reference to the catastrophic drainage of ice-dammed subglacial and ice-marginal lakes, moraine-dammed proglacial lakes, and drainage of water from the englacial/subglacial drainage network that may be triggered by high surface melting or rainstorms. Finally, the effects of climate change on runoff regimes, water storage, and floods are assessed. The similarities and differences between the hydrological regimes of mid-, high-, and low-latitude basins containing glaciers with different thermal regimes are highlighted.


  • climate change;
  • floods;
  • glacier;
  • glacierised catchments;
  • jökulhlaups;
  • lakes;
  • runoff regime;
  • water balance;
  • water storage