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170 Modeling Glacier Hydrology

Part 14. Snow and Glacier Hydrology

  1. Regine Hock,
  2. Peter Jansson

Published Online: 15 APR 2006

DOI: 10.1002/0470848944.hsa176

Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences

Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences

How to Cite

Hock, R. and Jansson, P. 2006. Modeling Glacier Hydrology. Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences. 14:170.

Author Information

  1. Stockholm University, Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, Stockholm, Sweden

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2006


Modeling glacier hydrology is essential for many aspects of glacier research and water resources planning. Model complexity has developed in parallel with our increasing understanding of the glacier system. Different models can be used depending on the purpose of the modeled results. Stochastic models constitute the first attempts to model glacier discharge. Use of such models has declined because they require extensive site-specific calibrations and lack a conceptual basis, which makes them cumbersome to use. Conceptual models are the most widely used models for estimating discharge from glacierized basins. Commonly, the concept of linear reservoirs is applied to route melt and rain water through the glacier. Despite the wide variety of models of differing complexity, common to most conceptual models is that they omit many of the physical processes. Therefore attempts have been made to build physically based models that account for all processes in the glacier hydrological system. Because of the complexity of the modeled system and the wide variety of conditions on, in and under glaciers, the first models are relatively site-specific. However, despite the inherent difficulties, they still yield good results. Physically based models will likely play an increasingly important role in glaciohydrological research while the conceptual models will continue to dominate the monitoring and forecasting modeling in applied hydrology because of their modest data requirements and ease of use.


  • glacier runoff;
  • glacier melt;
  • runoff models;
  • stochastic models;
  • conceptual models;
  • physically based models;
  • glacier drainage;
  • water resources