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Monitoring surging glaciers of the Pamirs, central Asia, from space

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The evolution of surging glaciers of the Pamirs, central Asia, has been studied using repeat remote-sensing surveys in the Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences, since the early 1970s. We use images obtained from national Resurs-F satellites (1972–91), as well as Landsat 7 and Terra (1999–2006), to provide a basis for monitoring of surging glaciers, aimed at developing their inventory, studying the causes and mechanisms of surges and examining the timing and extent of glacial catastrophes. The inventory from the early 1990s allows identification of 215 glaciers with a dynamically unstable regime. We discovered 51 surging glaciers. Up until 2006, 10 more surges had occurred. We use stereoscopic deciphering and photogrammetric processing of consecutive satellite images to study the morphology and ice-velocity changes of several compound surging glaciers. We analyze the results of monitoring of Bivachny and Oktyabr'sky glaciers from 1972 to 1991 and Sugran glacier from 1972 to 2006. Two surges of Sugran glacier occurred during this time: an internal surge in 1976–80, and a surge with glacier tongue advance as far as 4.5 km in 2000–05. The role of damming in compound glacier systems is examined. Satellite-based monitoring is now the only method for obtaining initial information about the state and fluctuations of such glaciers.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2008

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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