03 Feb 2023
 | 03 Feb 2023
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Annual to seasonal glacier mass balance in High Mountain Asia derived from Pléiades stereo images: examples from the Pamir and the Tibetan Plateau

Daniel Falaschi, Atanu Bhattacharya, Gregoire Guillet, Lei Huang, Owen King, Kriti Mukherjee, Philipp Rastner, Tandong Yao, and Tobias Bolch

Abstract. Glaciers are crucial sources of freshwater in particular for the arid lowlands surrounding High Mountain Asia. In order to better constrain glacio-hydrological models, annual, or even better, seasonal information about glacier mass changes is highly beneficial. In this study, we test the suitability of very high-resolution Pleiades DEMs to measure glacier-wide mass balance at annual and seasonal scales in two regions of High Mountain Asia (Muztagh Ata in Eastern Pamir and parts of Western Nyainqêntanglha, South-central Tibetan Plateau), where recent estimates have shown contrasting glacier behavior. We find that the average annual mass balance in Muztagh Ata between 2020 and 2022 was -0.11 ±0.21 m w.e. a-1, suggesting the continuation of a recent phase of slight mass loss following a prolonged period of balanced mass budgets previously observed. The mean annual mass balance in Western Nyainqêntanglha for the same period was highly negative (-0.60 ±0.15 m w.e. a-1 on average), suggesting increased mass loss rates. The 2022 winter (+0.21 ±0.24 m w.e.) and summer (-0.31 ±0.15 m w.e.) mass budgets in Muztag Ata and Western Nyainqêntanglha (-0.04 ±0.27 m w.e. [winter]; -0.66 ±0.07 m w.e. [summer]) suggest winter and summer accumulation-type regimes, respectively. We support our findings by implementing a Sentinel-1–based Glacier Index to identify the firn and wet snow areas on glaciers and characterize accumulation type. The good match between the geodetic and Glacier Index results demonstrates the potential of very high-resolution Pleiades data to monitor mass balance at short time scales and improves our understanding of glacier accumulation regimes across High Mountain Asia.

Daniel Falaschi 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-2022-264', Anonymous Referee #1, 24 Apr 2023
  • RC2: 'RefereeComment_tc-2022-264_discussion_Falaschi_GMB_HMA_280523', Anonymous Referee #2, 28 May 2023
  • RC3: 'Comment on tc-2022-264', César Deschamps-Berger, 31 May 2023

Daniel Falaschi et al.

Daniel Falaschi et al.


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Short summary
Because glaciers are crucial freshwater sources in the lowlands surrounding High Mountain Asia, constraining short-term glacier mass changes is essential. We investigate the potential of state-of-the-art satellite elevation data to measure glacier mass changes in two selected regions. The results demonstrate the ability of our dataset to characterize glacier changes of different magnitude, allowing for an increase in the number of inaccessible glaciers that can be readily monitored.