Glacier Variations in the Trans Alai Massif and the Lake Karakul Catchment (Northeastern Pamir) Measured from Space
Glacier area and length changes were measured in the central Trans Alai of the northeastern Pamir, including the entire catchment of Lake Karakul. Annual shrinkage determined from Landsat 7 ETM+ imagery accounted for −0.8 ± 0.4 % aˉ1, corresponding to −8.8 ± 4.8 % from 1455 ± 51 km2 in 2000 to 1327 ± 48 km2 in 2011. Several glaciers could be mapped back to 1973 based on a KH-9 Hexagon reconnaissance image. Measured glacier extents of 550 ± 10 km2 in 1973, 540 ± 9 km2 in 2000, and 521 ± 9 km2 in 2011 indicate accelerated shrinkage for the last decade in the Trans Alai. Glaciers retreated on average by −4.3 ± 0.5 m aˉ1 before 2000 and subsequently advanced by +6.1 ± 1.0 m aˉ1 until 2011. Geodetic mass balances of four selected glaciers were determined from a Digital Elevation Model extracted from a 2010 ALOS-PRISM tri-stereo image and the February 2000 SRTM-3 elevation dataset (1999). Its difference image reveals highly variable glacier elevation changes. While three glaciers showed probably a minor loss (−0.16 ± 0.68 m w.e. aˉ1 to −0.06 ± 0.68 m w.e. aˉ1), a more pronounced mass loss was observed for Uisuu Glacier (−0.50 ± 0.68 m w.e. aˉ1). This study reveals significant glacier variations and numerous indications of surges in the Trans Alai, a well-known phenomenon in the Pamir.
KeywordsGlacier variations Geodetic mass balance ALOS-PRISM KH-9 Hexagon Trans Alai Northeastern Pamir
This study was supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) program “Central Asia – Monsoon Dynamics and Geo-Ecosystems” (CAME) within the WET project (“Variability and Trends in Water Balance Components of Benchmark Drainage Basins on the Tibetan Plateau”) under code 03G0804F. T. Bolch acknowledges funding by the German Research Foundation (DFG, BO 3199/2-1) and the European Space Agency, Project Glaciers_cci (4000101778/10/I-AM). KH-9 Hexagon imagery and Landsat 7 ETM+ satellite imagery were provided by the US Geological Survey (USGS). ALOS-PRISM imagery was purchased by the GAF AG and provided by JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency). Hole-filled SRTM-3 v4.1 data was obtained from the Consortium for Spatial Information of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR-CSI). We acknowledge the support of Tino Pieczonka in data co-registration and thank Juliane Peters, Jan Kropácek, and Benjamin Schröter for fruitful discussions.
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