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Journal of Applied Remote Sensing

Regional glacier mass loss estimated by ICESat-GLAS data and SRTM digital elevation model in the West Kunlun Mountains, Tibetan Plateau, 2003–2009
Author(s): Hongbo Wu; Ninglian Wang; Zhongming Guo; Yuwei Wu
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Paper Abstract

The Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) altimetry and the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) digital elevation model (DEM) data are used to estimate glacier mass loss changes in the West Kunlun Mountains, Tibetan Plateau (TP), 2003 to 2009. We integrated Landsat thematic mapper (TM)/enhanced TM images and GIS spatial analysis to map glacier surface elevation changes during 2003 to 2009. The ICESat-GLAS data can be used as baselines for surface elevation changes in altimetry as well as for TM imagery changes for depicting glacier area. Least-squares regression of an ICESat-derived thickness series shows the regional glacier mass decreased at an average rate of 1.41±0.23  km3/year water equivalent from 2003 to 2009, during the period of 2003 to 2009, the trend in thickness change became weaker. The ICESat-GLAS and SRTM DEM elevation differences between February 2003 and October 2009 show that the glacier surface elevations were decreasing below 5800 m but increased by 1.1±0.7  m above 6000 m a.s.l. region over that period. Thickness changes in the lower reaches of the glaciers indicate that the glacier ice ablation was mainly due to the summer temperature increases of 0.23°C and the summer precipitation decreases of 47.8 mm as measured at four stations, as well as the effects of sand and dust sources from the Tarim Basin. Meanwhile, in the upper parts of the glaciers (above 5800 m a.s.l.), ice surface elevation was increasing even though the Hetian station summer temperature at the 500 hPa level showed an obvious decrease of 0.78°C compared to 2003. In the upper part of the glacier-covered region, firn compaction and surface density should be taken into account. The glacier surges and bedrock movement may also lead to an underestimate of the volume loss due to the reduced mass conversion.

Paper Details

Date Published: 20 November 2014
PDF: 18 pages
J. Appl. Remote Sens. 8(1) 083515 doi: 10.1117/1.JRS.8.083515
Published in: Journal of Applied Remote Sensing Volume 8, Issue 1
Show Author Affiliations
Hongbo Wu, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute (China)
Chinese Academy of Sciences (China)
State Key Lab. of Cryospheric Sciences (China)
Ninglian Wang, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute (China)
State Key Lab. of Cryospheric Sciences (China)
Zhongming Guo, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute (China)
Chinese Academy of Sciences (China)
Yuwei Wu, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute (China)
Chinese Academy of Sciences (China)


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