Spatial, seasonal and interannual variability of supraglacial ponds in the Langtang Valley of Nepal, 1999–2013

Miles, Evan, Willis, Ian, Arnold, Neil, Steiner, Jakob and Pellicciotti, Francesca (2017) Spatial, seasonal and interannual variability of supraglacial ponds in the Langtang Valley of Nepal, 1999–2013. Journal of Glaciology, 63 (237). pp. 88-105. ISSN 0022-1430

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Supraglacial ponds play a key role in absorbing atmospheric energy and directing it to the ice of debris-covered glaciers, but the spatial and temporal distribution of these features is not well documented. We analyse 172 Landsat TM/ETM+ scenes for the period 1999–2013 to identify thawed supraglacial ponds for the debris-covered tongues of five glaciers in the Langtang Valley of Nepal. We apply an advanced atmospheric correction routine (Landcor/6S) and use band ratio and image morphological techniques to identify ponds and validate our results with 2.5 m Cartosat-1 observations. We then characterize the spatial, seasonal and interannual patterns of ponds. We find high variability in pond incidence between glaciers (May–October means of 0.08–1.69% of debris area), with ponds most frequent in zones of low surface gradient and velocity. The ponds show pronounced seasonality, appearing in the pre-monsoon as snow melts, peaking at the monsoon onset at 2% of debris-covered area, then declining in the post-monsoon as ponds drain or freeze. Ponds are highly recurrent and persistent, with 40.5% of pond locations occurring for multiple years. Rather than a trend in pond cover over the study period, we find high interannual variability for each glacier after controlling for seasonality.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: debris-covered glaciers, glacier hydrology, High Mountain Asia, remote sensing, supraglacial ponds
Subjects: F800 Physical and Terrestrial Geographical and Environmental Sciences
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Geography and Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Becky Skoyles
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2017 16:18
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2021 12:06

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