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How do melting glaciers dry rivers? Unless there's less precipitation during winter, I don't see how it affects the volume of water of the rivers that glaciers feed into. If it's cold, water accumulates as snow, and then during spring it melts and flows into rivers. If it's warm, it just rains and flows into rivers right away. What's the difference?

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  • $\begingroup$ May be helpful to give an example of where you heard/saw the concept :-) $\endgroup$ Sep 15, 2022 at 20:34
  • $\begingroup$ glaciers aren't just melting, they are disappearing entirely. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Sep 16, 2022 at 0:28
  • $\begingroup$ @John and how does it affect rivers? Aren't glaciers just an intermediary between precipitation and rivers, not the source of water per se? $\endgroup$ Sep 16, 2022 at 18:31

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In monsoonal or highly seasonal climates, with precipitation concentrated into a few months of the year, dry season river flow is sustained by melting ice from previous years. If precipitation remains constant, but temperatures rise, more water will runoff in the rainy season, exacerbating flood risks, and there will be less ice to melt and provide dry season flows. In the period of transition from 'cold' to 'warm', total runoff may actually increase initially, as melt water component is added to rainfall.

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    $\begingroup$ So it's not that glaciers "feed" rivers, they just distribute precipitation more evenly, don't they? $\endgroup$ Sep 16, 2022 at 18:35
  • $\begingroup$ @SergeyZolotarev which is really important, all rivers are just distributions of precipitation, without something to delay the water flow all rivers would only last a few hours after rain. glaciers can even out decades or centuries of rainfall. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Sep 16, 2022 at 23:32
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, because flash-floods are not very useful to farmers and locals. The glaciers reduce flash floods in rainy season and raise hot season supplies. $\endgroup$ Sep 18, 2022 at 7:48

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