This is the first-ever report providing comprehensive information about the status of glaciers in all of Afghanistan in four time periods and changes in them over a 25-year period from a single and consistent data source. The study deployed a semi-automatic method, using Landsat images from 2015 to map glaciers. For a higher accuracy of the decadal glacier data, glaciers in decadal time periods – 1990, 2000, and 2010 – were mapped by overlaying glacier boundaries for 2015 against Landsat images of these respective years (and manually editing them where necessary).
This report demonstrates the shrinking, retreating, and fragmenting of glaciers in Afghanistan, which would directly and adversely impact the long-term availability of freshwater. The information and database provided here will be useful for integrated water resource management and glacial hazards and risk management in the country. It will also help understand the impacts of climate change on glaciers, and its effects on mountain ecosystems and downstream riparian areas of the country in terms of water availability.