06 Oct 2021

06 Oct 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

A regionally resolved inventory of High Mountain Asia surge-type glaciers, derived from a multi-factor remote sensing approach

Gregoire Guillet1, Owen King1, Mingyang Lv2, Sajid Ghuffar1, Douglas Benn1, Duncan Quincey3, and Tobias Bolch1 Gregoire Guillet et al.
  • 1School of Geography and Sustainable Development, University of St Andrews, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • 2Aerospace Information Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100094, China
  • 3School of Geography, University of Leeds, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Abstract. Knowledge about the occurrence and characteristics of surge-type glaciers is crucial due to the impact of surging on glacier melt and glacier related hazards. One of the "super-clusters" of surge-type glaciers is the mountains of Asia. However, no consistent region-wide inventory of surge-type glaciers in High Mountain Asia exists. We present a regionally resolved inventory of surge-type glaciers based on their behaviour across High Mountain Asia between 2000 and 2018. We identify surge-type behaviour from surface velocity, elevation and feature change patterns using a multi-factor remote sensing approach that combines yearly ITS_LIVE velocity data, DEM differences and very-high resolution imagery (Bing Maps, Google Earth). Out of the ≈ 95000 glaciers in HMA, we identified 666 that show diagnostic surge-type glacier behaviour between 2000 and 2018, which are mainly found in the Karakoram (223) and the Pamir regions (223). The total area covered by the 666 surge-type glaciers represents 19.5 % of the glacierized area in Randolph Glacier Inventory (RGI) V6.0 polygons in HMA. Across all regions of HMA, the surge-affected area within glacier complexes displays a significant power law dependency with glacier length. We validate 107 previously identified glaciers as surge-type and newly identify 491 glaciers. We finally discuss the possibility of self-organized criticality in glacier surges.

Gregoire Guillet et al.

Status: open (until 01 Dec 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on tc-2021-303', Jakob Steiner, 21 Oct 2021 reply
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Gregoire Guillet, 04 Nov 2021 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on tc-2021-303', Anonymous Referee #2, 16 Nov 2021 reply

Gregoire Guillet et al.

Data sets

Inventory of surge-type glaciers in High Mountain Asia Gregoire Guillet, Owen King, Mingyang Lv, Sajid Ghuffar, Duncan Quincey, Douglas Benn, Tobias Bolch

Gregoire Guillet et al.


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Short summary
Surging glaciers show cyclical changes in flow behavior – between slow and fast flow – and can have drastic impacts on settlements in their vicinity. One of the clusters of surging glaciers worldwide is High Mountain Asia (HMA). We present an inventory of surging glaciers in HMA, identified from satellite imagery. We show that the number of surging glaciers was underestimated and that they represent 20 % of the area covered by glaciers in HMA, before discussing new physics for glacier surges.