2020
  • ICIMOD Publication

Mass balance and a glacier surge of Guliya ice cap in the western Kunlun Shan between 2005 and 2015

  • Sher Muhammad
  • Lide Tian

Contemporary estimates of glacier changes are necessary to assess the impact of climate change, associated hazards and water resources management. Glaciers in High Mountain Asia (HMA) are mostly retreating except the Karakoram and western Kunlun Shan, confirmed by remote sensing measurements. However, ground validation with precise measurements of these mass balance estimates are scarce. This study selected Guliya ice cap in the western Kunlun Shan to observe its recent changes regarding surface dynamics and mass balance using ASTER DEM of 2005 and 2015. Our findings indicate that one of the north-facing glaciers surged (with no previous surging history) during July and early November 2015, advancing at about 8 m per day on average. The mass balance shows a balance condition +0.01 ± 0.02 m w.e. a−1. The ICESat data (2004–2008) at selected locations compared to dGPS data collected in the field during 2015, indicating a minute difference of 0.03 ± 0.05 m a−1 with ASTER data in the same area. Our findings suggest that Guliya ice cap in the western Kunlun Shan is in equilibrium state following a similar pattern (mass gain or stable conditions) as observed previously.

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