Elevation changes of glaciers revealed by multitemporal digital elevation models calibrated by GPS survey in the Khumbu region, Nepal Himalaya, 1992–2008

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Due to remoteness and high altitude, only a few ground-based glacier change studies are available in high-mountain areas in the Himalaya. However, digital elevation models based on remotely sensed data (RS-DEMs) provide feasible opportunities to evaluate how fast Himalayan glaciers are changing. Here we compute elevation changes in glacier surface (total area 183.3 km2) in the Khumbu region, Nepal Himalaya, for the period 1992–2008 using multitemporal RS-DEMs and a map-derived DEM calibrated with differential GPS survey data in 2007. Elevation change is calculated by generating a weighted least-squares linear regression model. Our method enables us to provide the distribution of uncertainty of the elevation change. Debris-covered areas show large lowering rates. The spatial distribution of elevation change shows that the different wastage features of the debris-covered glaciers depend on their scale, slope and the existence of glacial lakes. The elevation changes of glaciers in the eastern Khumbu region are in line with previous studies. The regional average mass balance of –0.40 ± 0.25 m w.e.a–1 for the period 1992–2008 is consistent with a global value of about –0.55 m w.e.a–1 for the period 1996–2005.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3189/2012JoG11J061

Publication date: August 1, 2012

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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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