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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2019-122
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2019-122
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: data description paper 19 Aug 2019

Submitted as: data description paper | 19 Aug 2019

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth System Science Data (ESSD).

Temporal inventory of glaciers in the Suru sub-basin, western Himalaya: Impacts of the regional climate variability

Aparna Shukla1, Siddhi Garg1, Manish Mehta1, Vinit Kumar1, and Uma Kant Shukla2 Aparna Shukla et al.
  • 1Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, 33, GMS Road, Dehradun-248001, India
  • 2Department of Geology, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi-221005, India

Abstract. Updated knowledge about the glacier extent and characteristics in the Himalaya cannot be overemphasised. Availability of precise glacier inventories in the latitudinally diverse western Himalayan region is particularly crucial. In this study we have created an inventory of the Suru sub-basin, western Himalaya for year 2017 using Landsat OLI data. Changes in glacier parameters have also been monitored from 1971 to 2017 using temporal satellite remote sensing data and limited field observations. Inventory data shows that the sub-basin has 252 glaciers covering 11 % of the basin, having an average slope of 25 ± 6° and dominantly north orientation. The average snow line altitude (SLA) of the basin is 5011 ± 54 masl with smaller (47 %) and cleaner (43 %) glaciers occupying the bulk area. Longterm climate data (1901–2017) shows an increase in the mean annual temperature (Tmin & Tmax) by 0.77 ºC (0.25 & 1.3 ºC) in the sub-basin, driving the overall glacier variability in the region. Temporal analysis reveals a glacier shrinkage of ~ 6 ± 0.02 %, an average retreat rate of 4.3 ± 1.02 ma−1, debris increase of 62 % and 22 ± 60 m SLA rise in past 46 years. This confirms their transitional response between the Karakoram and the Greater Himalayan Range (GHR) glaciers. Besides, glaciers in the sub-basin occupy two major ranges, i.e., GHR and Ladakh range (LR) and experience local climate variability, with the GHR glaciers exhibiting a warmer and wetter climate as compared to the LR glaciers. This variability manifestes itself in the varied response of GHR and LR glaciers. While the GHR glaciers exhibit an overall rise in SLA (GHR: 49 ± 69 m; LR: decrease by 18 ± 50 m), the LR glaciers have deglaciated more (LR: 7 %; GHR: 6 %) with an enhanced accumulation of debris cover (LR: 73 %; GHR: 59 %). Inferences from this study reveal prevalence of glacier disintegration and overall degeneration, transition of clean ice to partially debris covered glaciers, local climate variability and non-climatic (topographic and morphometric) factor induced heterogeinty in glacier response as the major processes operatives in this region. The dataset (Shukla et al., 2019) is accessible at https://doi.pangaea.de/10.1594/PANGAEA.904131.

Aparna Shukla et al.
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Temporal inventory of glaciers in the Suru sub-basin, western Himalaya A. Shukla, S. Garg, M. Mehta, V. Kumar, and U. K. Shukla https://doi.pangaea.de/10.1594/PANGAEA.904131

Aparna Shukla et al.
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Short summary
This research presents an updated glacier inventory (2017) of the Suru sub-basin, western Himalaya, India, useful for glacier modelling studies. Glaciers here occur in two major Himalayan ranges, i.e., the Ladakh Range and the Greater Himalayan Range (GHR). Temporal glacier changes (46 years) suggest an overall degenerating pattern and a transitional response between the Karakoram and GHR glaciers. Local climate variability and unique topography induce heterogeneity in glacier response.
This research presents an updated glacier inventory (2017) of the Suru sub-basin, western...
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