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Repeat glacier collapses and surges in the Amney Machen mountain range, Tibet, possibly triggered by a developing rock-slope instability


Paul, Frank (2019). Repeat glacier collapses and surges in the Amney Machen mountain range, Tibet, possibly triggered by a developing rock-slope instability. Remote Sensing, 11(6):708.

Abstract

Collapsing valley glaciers leaving their bed to rush down a flat hill slope at the speed of a racing car are so far rare events. They have only been reported for the Kolkaglacier (Caucasus) in 2002 and the two glaciers in the Aru mountain range (Tibet) that failed in 2016. Both events have been studied in detail using satellite data and modeling to learn more about the reasons for and processes related to such events. This study reports about a series of so far undocumented glacier collapses that occurred in the Amney Machen mountain range (eastern Tibet) in 2004, 2007, and 2016. All three collapses were associated with a glacier surge, but from 1987 to 1995, the glacier surged without collapsing. The later surges and collapses were likely triggered by a progressing slope instability that released large amounts of ice and rock to the lower glacier tongue, distorting its dynamic stability. The surges and collapses might continue in the future as more ice and rock is available to fall on the glacier. It has been speculated that the development is a direct response to regional temperature increase that destabilized the surrounding hanging glaciers. However, the specific properties of the steep rock slopes and the glacier bed might also have played a role.

Abstract

Collapsing valley glaciers leaving their bed to rush down a flat hill slope at the speed of a racing car are so far rare events. They have only been reported for the Kolkaglacier (Caucasus) in 2002 and the two glaciers in the Aru mountain range (Tibet) that failed in 2016. Both events have been studied in detail using satellite data and modeling to learn more about the reasons for and processes related to such events. This study reports about a series of so far undocumented glacier collapses that occurred in the Amney Machen mountain range (eastern Tibet) in 2004, 2007, and 2016. All three collapses were associated with a glacier surge, but from 1987 to 1995, the glacier surged without collapsing. The later surges and collapses were likely triggered by a progressing slope instability that released large amounts of ice and rock to the lower glacier tongue, distorting its dynamic stability. The surges and collapses might continue in the future as more ice and rock is available to fall on the glacier. It has been speculated that the development is a direct response to regional temperature increase that destabilized the surrounding hanging glaciers. However, the specific properties of the steep rock slopes and the glacier bed might also have played a role.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Uncontrolled Keywords:General Earth and Planetary Sciences
Language:English
Date:24 March 2019
Deposited On:17 Dec 2019 09:17
Last Modified:17 Dec 2019 09:17
Publisher:MDPI Publishing
ISSN:2072-4292
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11060708

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