Glacier area and surface elevation changes in central Borohoro Range, northern Tian Shan in China

Authors: Yanan Li*, Texas State University - San Marcos
Topics: Cryosphere, Geomorphology, Remote Sensing
Keywords: glacier, remote sensing, high mountain Asia
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Glaciers in the Tian Shan, Central Asia, have undergone significant retreat in recent decades and have demonstrated a strong spatial heterogeneity in the magnitude of retreat. Knowledge about the status and changes of glaciers is important to understand the climate variability and gives opportunities to evaluate their crucial impacts on water resources in this arid environment. As the rate of glacier changes has been reported in many basins across the 2500km Tian Shan system, less attention has been paid to the northern section, the Borohoro Mountains. In this study, we focus on the central Borohoro where the largest glaciers exist in the range and attempt to decipher variations in glacier areas and surface elevations within 2000–2016. With a series of Landsat images acquired over the period, we apply a semi-automatic approach to derive glacier outlines and calculate area changes. We also use the ICESat (Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite) altimetry data over 2003–2009 with the 1-arc (30 m) SRTM digital elevation model as the reference to estimate the elevation changes of two glaciers with the ICESat footprints. The temporal trends of elevation differences are further examined at the accumulation zone and ablation zone, divided by the approximated snowline – the transient snowline from late summer satellite images. We analyze the possible topoclimatic reasons, including temperature, precipitation, aspect, slope, and hypsometry, for the spatial variability of the area and thickness changes.

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