08 Sep 2022
08 Sep 2022
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Surging glaciers in High Mountain Asia between 1986 and 2021

Meiping Sun1,2, Sugang Zhou1, Xiaojun Yao1, Hongyu Duan1, and Yuan Zhang1 Meiping Sun et al.
  • 1College of Geography and Environmental Science, Northwest Normal University, Lanzhou, 730070, China
  • 2Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, 730000, China

Abstract. High Mountain Asia (HMA) is one of the main distribution areas of surging glaciers in the world. The glacier change represented by the Karakoram anomaly has been a topic of wide concern. Surging glaciers not only reshape the peri-glacial landscape, but may also directly or indirectly lead to disasters. Therefore, it is of great importance to understand the distribution characteristics, periodic laws, and occurrence mechanisms of surging glaciers. Based on Landsat TM/ETM+/OLI remote sensing images from 1986–2021, a total of 244 surging glaciers in HMA were identified, covering an area of 10974.25 km2, accounting for 11.25 % of the total area of glaciers in HMA. The Karakoram Range and Pamirs are the main mountain/plateau where 185 surging glaciers are more highly concentrated. Three basins, including Amu Darya, Tarim and Indus, have 208 surging glaciers comprising 85.25 % of the total amount of surging glaciers in HMA, covering an area of 10096.89 km2. From 1986–2021, these surging glaciers advanced at least 2802 times, and exhibited different temporal and spatial trends. Obvious differences exist in the surge phase and the quiescent phase of glaciers in different regions of HMA. The surge phase of surging glaciers in the Karakoram Range and Pamirs is generally short, mostly between 2~6a, the quiescent phase is 5~19a, and the surging period is 9~24a. The mechanism of surging glaciers in HMA is more complex, which is different from Svalbard and Alaska glaciers.

Meiping Sun et al.

Status: open (until 03 Nov 2022)

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Meiping Sun et al.

Meiping Sun et al.


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Short summary
For understanding the occurrence mechanism of surging glaciers in High Mountain Asia, it is essential to ascertain their amounts, distribution and periodicity. Based on images from Landsat satellite from 1986–2021, we identified 244 surging glaciers with high confidence and 2802 events of glacier surge. We also analyzed the periodicity of 36 glaciers which experienced two or more surges. The findings will benefit to enrich dataset and provide basic information of surging glaciers in HMA.