Jason Covert



Document Type



The tropical glaciers of the Cordillera Blanca, Peru are rapidly receding as a result of significant mass and energy imbalances caused by climate change. The glacier recession is raising concerns among the scientific community and those living in the Rio Santa Valley of Ancash, Peru due to the likely water shortages in the near future as a result of disappearing glaciers and the subsequent reduction of fresh water discharge. In response to the concern, much research has sought to constrain the atmospheric forcing of the glacier surface energy balance (SEB) in effort to model future glacier loss. There is little known about the impacts of meteorological forcing from within adjacent periglacial valleys on the SEB of tropical glaciers primarily due to the lack of in-situ climate data available from within such environments. To address this knowledge gap, monthly averages of wind, insolation, air temperature, near-surface lapse rates, and precipitation data were obtained and analyzed from a unique autonomous sensor network (ASN) embedded within the glaciated Llanganuco Valley (9°S) of the Cordillera Blanca, Peru. The results suggest that a distinct microclimate exists within the Llanganuco Valley that is defined by a microscale valley wind system that can plausibly contribute to nocturnal cloud development over the Valley thereby impacting the SEB of its adjacent glaciers. The valley wind system is dependent on El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) due to its inter-annual and diurnal interactions with the upper atmosphere. The results reveal the critical importance of understanding the boundary layer processes in areas of complex terrain adjacent to alpine glaciers and further validate the need to maintain embedded climatological networks, such as the ASN, in the Cordillera Blanca to enable future glacier research.



Thesis Comittee

Robert Hellström (Thesis Director)

Darcy Boellstorff

Thayaparan Paramanathan

Copyright and Permissions

Original document was submitted as an Honors Program requirement. Copyright is held by the author.