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ASTER measurement of supraglacial lakes in the Mount Everest region of the Himalaya

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We demonstrate an application of Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) images to detect and monitor supraglacial lakes on glaciers in the Mount Everest region in Tibet (Xizang) and Nepal. ASTER offers powerful capabilities to monitor supraglacial lakes in terms of (1) surface area, growth and disappearance (spatial resolution =15 m), (2) turbidity (15 m resolution), and (3) temperature (90 m resolution). Preliminary results show an overall similarity of supraglacial lakes on three glaciers. Lakes have widely varying turbidity as indicated by color in visible/near-infrared bands 1-3, the largest lakes being bright blue (highly turbid), cold (near 0°C) and hydraulically connected with other lakes and supraglacial streams, while small lakes are mostly dark blue (relatively clear water),warmer (>4°C), and appear hydraulically isolated. High levels of turbidity in supraglacial lakes indicate high rates of meltwater input from streams or erosion of ice cliffs, and thus are an indirect measure relating to the activity and hydraulic integration of the lake with respect to other lakes and streams in the glacier.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2002

More about this publication?
  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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