Recent mass balance of the Purogangri Ice Cap, central Tibetan Plateau, by means of differential X-band SAR interferometry
Abstract. Due to their remoteness, altitude and harsh climatic conditions, little is known about the glaciological parameters of ice caps on the Tibetan Plateau. This study presents a geodetic mass balance estimate of the Purogangri Ice Cap, Tibet's largest ice field between 2000 and 2012. We utilized data from the actual TerraSAR-X mission and its add-on for digital elevation measurements and compared it with elevation data from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission. The employed data sets are ideal for this approach as both data sets were acquired at X-band at nearly the same time of the year and are available at a fine grid spacing. In order to derive surface elevation changes we employed two different methods. The first method is based on differential synthetic radar interferometry while the second method uses common DEM differencing. Both approaches revealed a slightly negative mass budget of −44 ± 15 and −38 ± 23 mm w.eq. a−1 (millimeter water equivalent) respectively. A slightly negative trend of −0.15 ± 0.01 km2 a−1 in glacier extent was found for the same time period employing a time series of Landsat data. Overall, our results show an almost balanced mass budget for the studied time period. Additionally, we detected one continuously advancing glacier tongue in the eastern part of the ice cap.