Characterizing the glacier surge dynamics in Yarkand basin, Karakoram using remote sensing

  • Area of Interest: Remote Sensing and GIS
  • Keyword: Surge, Karakoram, Mass transfer, Surface displacement, DEM differencing

Summary (surge dynamics)

The Karakoram region contains a large number of surge-type glaciers, but few surging glaciers have been investigated by surface displacement and DEM differencing. The paper presents the surge dynamics of one unnamed glacier in Yarkand basin, of Karakoram region between 2000 and 2019 using satellite imagery (e.g., Landsat and Sentinel 2). Also, multiple high-resolution DEMs (e.g., HMA and Cartosat 1) were used to estimate mass transfer from the reservoir zone to the receiving zone. The DEM differencing exhibit maximum thickening of the lower receiving zone was ∼190 ± 31 m whereas a maximum thinning of the upper reservoir zone was −17 ± 31 m between 2018 and 2016. The receiving zone gained 256 ± 143 × 10⁶ m³ ice mass between 2018 and 2011. The surface displacement was lower than 0.07 ± 0.02 m d⁻¹ in the quiescent phase between 2000 and 2011 and surface displacement reached to ∼5 ± 0.3 m d⁻¹ in the active phase (autumn 2015). The glacier terminus retreated −765 ± 89 m from 1978 to 2016 but advanced +681 ± 57 m during 2016–2019.



Rakesh Bhambri thanks to the Director, Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG), for providing facilities to complete this work. We wish to express our gratitude to Prashant Kawishwar (Senior Resource Scientist, Department of Science and Technology, Chhattisgarh) for important comments and suggestions which improved the manuscript. ASTER data were acquired from GLIMS (Global Land Ice Measurements from Space) and provided at no cost by NASA/USGS. We also thank the United States Geological Survey (USGS) (http://earthexplorer.usgs. gov/) for providing Landsat satellite image.

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Content Posted by: Mr. Ram Moorat Singh

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