13 Jan 2023
 | 13 Jan 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Characterizing the surge behaviour and associated ice-dammed lake evolution of the Kyagar Glacier in the Karakoram

Guanyu Li, Mingyang Lv, Duncan J. Quincey, Liam S. Taylor, Xinwu Li, Shiyong Yan, Yidan Sun, and Huadong Guo

Abstract. Glacier surges are prevalent in the Karakoram and occasionally threaten local residents by inundating land and initiating mass movement events. The Kyagar Glacier is well-known for its surge history, and in particular its frequent-blocking of the downstream valley, leading to a series of high-magnitude glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs). Although the surge dynamics of the Kyagar Glacier have been broadly described in the literature, there remains an extensive archive of remote sensing observations that have great potential for revealing specific surge characteristics and their relationship with historic lake outburst floods. In this study, we propose a new perspective on quantifying the surging process using successive Digital Elevation Models (DEMs), which could be applied to other sites where glacier surges are known to occur. Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) DEMs, High Mountain Asia 8-meter (HMA) DEMs and the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) DEM were used to characterize surface elevation changes throughout the period 2000 to 2021. We also used Landsat time-series imagery to quantify glacier surface velocities and associated lake changes over the course of two surge events between 1989 and 2021. Using these data, we reconstruct the surging process of Kyagar Glacier in unprecedented detail and find a clear signal of surface uplift over the lower glacier tongue, along with uniformly increasing velocities, associated with the period of surge initiation. Seasonal variations in flow are still evident throughout the surge phase indicating the presence of water at the glacier bed. Surge activity is strongly related to the development and drainage of the terminal ice-dammed lake, which itself is controlled by the drainage system beneath the glacier terminus.

Guanyu Li et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on tc-2022-253', Anonymous Referee #1, 07 Mar 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on tc-2022-253', Rakesh Bhambri, 27 Mar 2023

Guanyu Li et al.


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Short summary
Kyagar Glacier in the Karakoram is well-known for its surge history, and its frequent-blocking of the downstream valley, leading to a series of high-magnitude glacial lake outburst floods. Using it as a test-bed, we develop a new approach for quantifying surging behaviour using successive digital elevation models. We believe this method could be applied to other surging studies. Combining with results from optical satellite images, we also reconstruct the surging process in unprecedented detail.