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Supra-glacial debris cover changes in the Greater Caucasus from 1986 to 2014


Tielidze, Levan G; Bolch, Tobias; Wheate, Roger D; Kutuzov, Stanislav S; Lavrentiev, Ivan I; Zemp, Michael (2020). Supra-glacial debris cover changes in the Greater Caucasus from 1986 to 2014. The Cryosphere, 14(2):585-598.

Abstract

Knowledge of supra-glacial debris cover and its changes remain incomplete in the Greater Caucasus, in spite of recent glacier studies. Here we present data of supra-glacial debris cover for 659 glaciers across the Greater
Caucasus based on Landsat and SPOT images from the years 1986, 2000 and 2014. We combined semi-automated methods for mapping the clean ice with manual digitization of debris-covered glacier parts and calculated supra-glacial debris-covered area as the residual between these two maps. The accuracy of the results was assessed by using high-resolution Google Earth imagery and GPS data for selected glaciers. From 1986 to 2014, the total glacier area decreased from 691.5±29.0 to 590.0±25.8 km2 (15.8±4.1 %, or ∼0.52 % yr−1), while the clean-ice area reduced from 643.2±25.9 to 511.0±20.9 km2 (20.1±4.0 %, or ∼0.73 % yr−1). In contrast supra-glacial debris cover increased from 7.0±6.4 %, or 48.3±3.1 km2, in 1986 to 13.4±6.2 % (∼0.22 % yr−1), or 79.0±4.9 km2, in 2014. Debris-free glaciers exhibited higher area and length reductions than debris-covered glaciers. The distribution of the supra-glacial debris cover differs between the northern and southern and between the western, central and eastern Greater Caucasus. The observed increase in supra-glacial debris cover is significantly stronger on the northern slopes. Overall, we have observed up-glacier average migration of supra-glacial debris cover from about 3015 to 3130 m a.s.l. (metres above sea level) during the investigated period.

Abstract

Knowledge of supra-glacial debris cover and its changes remain incomplete in the Greater Caucasus, in spite of recent glacier studies. Here we present data of supra-glacial debris cover for 659 glaciers across the Greater
Caucasus based on Landsat and SPOT images from the years 1986, 2000 and 2014. We combined semi-automated methods for mapping the clean ice with manual digitization of debris-covered glacier parts and calculated supra-glacial debris-covered area as the residual between these two maps. The accuracy of the results was assessed by using high-resolution Google Earth imagery and GPS data for selected glaciers. From 1986 to 2014, the total glacier area decreased from 691.5±29.0 to 590.0±25.8 km2 (15.8±4.1 %, or ∼0.52 % yr−1), while the clean-ice area reduced from 643.2±25.9 to 511.0±20.9 km2 (20.1±4.0 %, or ∼0.73 % yr−1). In contrast supra-glacial debris cover increased from 7.0±6.4 %, or 48.3±3.1 km2, in 1986 to 13.4±6.2 % (∼0.22 % yr−1), or 79.0±4.9 km2, in 2014. Debris-free glaciers exhibited higher area and length reductions than debris-covered glaciers. The distribution of the supra-glacial debris cover differs between the northern and southern and between the western, central and eastern Greater Caucasus. The observed increase in supra-glacial debris cover is significantly stronger on the northern slopes. Overall, we have observed up-glacier average migration of supra-glacial debris cover from about 3015 to 3130 m a.s.l. (metres above sea level) during the investigated period.

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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
Scopus Subject Areas:Physical Sciences > Water Science and Technology
Physical Sciences > Earth-Surface Processes
Uncontrolled Keywords:Earth-Surface Processes, Water Science and Technology
Language:English
Date:13 February 2020
Deposited On:12 Nov 2020 14:01
Last Modified:23 Jun 2024 01:44
Publisher:Copernicus Publications
ISSN:1994-0416
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-14-585-2020
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)