Spatial distribution of debris thickness and melting from remote-sensing and meteorological data, at debris-covered Baltoro glacier, Karakoram, Pakistan

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A distributed surface energy-balance study was performed to determine sub-debris ablation across a large part of Baltoro glacier, a wide debris-covered glacier in the Karakoram range, Pakistan. The study area is ∼124 km2. The study aimed primarily at analyzing the influence of debris thickness on the melt distribution. The spatial distribution of the physical and thermal characteristics of the debris was calculated from remote-sensing (ASTER image) and field data. Meteorological data from an automatic weather station at Urdukas (4022 m a.s.l.), located adjacent to Baltoro glacier on a lateral moraine, were used to calculate the spatial distribution of energy available for melting during the period 1–15 July 2004. The model performance was evaluated by comparisons with field measurements for the same period. The model is reliable in predicting ablation over wide debris-covered areas. It underestimates melt rates over highly crevassed areas and water ponds with a high variability of the debris thickness distribution in the vicinity, and over areas with very low debris thickness (<0.03 m). We also examined the spatial distribution of the energy-balance components (global radiation and surface temperature) over the study area. The results allow us to quantify, for the study period, a meltwater production of 0.058 km3.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2008

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  • 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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