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Fluctuations of Raikot Glacier during the past 70 years: a case study from the Nanga Parbat massif, northern Pakistan

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The Himalaya has some of the largest glacier concentrations outside the polar regions. Despite this, long-term measurements detecting the impact of global warming and changing precipitation patterns on glaciers are rare. The Nanga Parbat massif in northern Pakistan is an exception. The cartographer and glaciologist R. Finsterwalder investigated glacier dynamics of this mountain massif in the 1930s, and several other studies document changes since then. The aim of this study is to detect and analyse the changes of Raikot Glacier over the past seven decades. We use a multitemporal and multiscale approach, based on repeat terrestrial images, additional historical data and remotely sensed imagery (Corona, ASTER, Landsat, QuickBird). The multitemporal approach covers the period 1934–2007. While the analyses show a total glacier retreat of ∼200 m in 73 years, this general trend was interrupted by a significant glacier advance between the 1950s and 1980s. Although down-wasting processes can be inferred from an increase in debris-covered area, a general trend of reduced glacier thickness does not appear significant over the whole observation period.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2009

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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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