Characterizing the behaviour of surge- and non-surge-type glaciers in the Kingata Mountains, eastern Pamir, from 1999 to 2016

Lv, Mingyang; Guo, Huadong; Lu, Xiancai; Liu, Guang; Yan, Shiyong; Ruan, Zhixing; Ding, Yixing; Quincey, Duncan J.

Glaciers in the Pamir Mountains are generally acknowledged to be in a stable state and show the least glacial retreat in high-mountain Asia; however, they are also some of the most dynamic glaciers in the region and their behaviour has been spatially variable in recent decades. Few data exist for these glaciers, in particular relating to how they are responding to recent climatic changes. Here, we utilize Landsat 7 (ETMinline-formula+), Landsat 8 (OLI), ASTER, and Google Earth optical images acquired between 1999 and 2016 to characterize the dynamics of the glaciers in the Kingata Mountains, located in the eastern Pamir Mountains. We quantify the velocity, areal, and frontal changes of these glaciers, which provide us with valuable data on their recent dynamic evolution and an indication of how they may evolve in future years. We highlight 28 glaciers among which 17 have changed markedly over the study period. We identify four advancing glaciers and 13 surge-type glaciers. The dynamic evolution of the glacier surges shows some similarity with those of the nearby Karakoram, suggesting that both hydrological and thermal controls are important for surge initiation and recession. Topography seems to be a dominant control on non-surge glacier behaviour in the Kingata Mountains, with the north side of the divide characterized by steep, avalanche-fed basins and glacier tongues now approaching recession in contrast to those on the south side of the divide that capture the majority of precipitation and have much broader plateau-like accumulation zones. This study is the first synthesis of glacial motion across this region and provides a baseline with which to compare future changes.

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Lv, Mingyang / Guo, Huadong / Lu, Xiancai / et al: Characterizing the behaviour of surge- and non-surge-type glaciers in the Kingata Mountains, eastern Pamir, from 1999 to 2016. 2019. Copernicus Publications.

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