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Tributary glacier surges: an exceptional concentration at Panmah Glacier, Karakoram Himalaya

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Four tributaries of Panmah Glacier have surged in less than a decade, three in quick succession between 2001 and 2005. Since 1985, 13 surges have been recorded in the Karakoram Himalaya, more than in any comparable period since the 1850s. Ten were tributary surges. In these ten a full run-out of surge ice is prevented, but extended post-surge episodes affect the tributary and main glacier. The sudden concentration of events at Panmah Glacier is without precedent and at odds with known surge intervals for the glaciers. Interpretations must consider the response of thermally complex glaciers, at exceptionally high altitudes and of high relief, to changes in a distinctive regional climate. It is suggested that high-altitude warming affecting snow and glacier thermal regimes, or bringing intense, short-term melting episodes, may be more significant than mass-balance change.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2007-03-01

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  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.

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