Journal cover Journal topic
Earth System Science Data The Data Publishing Journal
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
05 Apr 2018
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth System Science Data (ESSD).
A consistent glacier inventory for the Karakoram and Pamir regions derived from Landsat data: distribution of debris cover and mapping challenges
Nico Mölg1, Tobias Bolch1, Philipp Rastner1, Tazio Strozzi2, and Frank Paul1 1Institute of Geography, University of Zurich, Switzerland
2Gamma Remote Sensing, Worbstr. 225, 3073 Gümligen, Switzerland
Abstract. The knowledge about the coverage and characteristics of glaciers in High Mountain Asia is still incomplete and heterogeneous. However, several applications such as modelling of past or future glacier development, runoff or glacier volume, rely on the existence and accessibility of complete datasets. In particular, precise outlines of glacier extent are required to spatially constrain glacier-specific calculations such as length, area and volume changes or flow velocities. As a contribution to the Randolph Glacier Inventory (RGI) and the GLIMS glacier database, we have produced a homogeneous inventory of the Pamir and the Karakoram mountain ranges using 28 Landsat TM and ETM+ scenes acquired around the year 2000. We applied a standardized way of automated digital glacier mapping and manual correction using coherence images from ALOS-1 PALSAR-1 as an additional source of information, separated the glacier complexes into individual glaciers using drainage divides derived by watershed analysis from the ASTER GDEM2, and separately delineated all debris-covered areas. Assessment of uncertainties was performed for debris-covered and clean-ice glacier parts using the buffer method and independent multiple digitizing of three glaciers representing key challenges such as shadows and debris cover. Indeed, along with seasonal snow at high elevations, shadow and debris cover represent the largest uncertainties in our final dataset. In total, we mapped more than 27'400 glaciers >0.02 km2 covering an area of 35'287 ± 1209 km2 and an elevation range from 2260 m to 8600 m with regional median glacier elevations varying from 4150 m (Pamir Alai) to almost 5400 m (Karakoram); this being largely due to differences in temperature and precipitation. The coverage of glaciers by debris is on average ~5 %, but glaciers >5 km2 have often a much higher area share (>10 %), making it an important factor to be considered in subsequent applications. Location of dataset:
Citation: Mölg, N., Bolch, T., Rastner, P., Strozzi, T., and Paul, F.: A consistent glacier inventory for the Karakoram and Pamir regions derived from Landsat data: distribution of debris cover and mapping challenges, Earth Syst. Sci. Data Discuss.,, in review, 2018.
Nico Mölg et al.
Nico Mölg et al.


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