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Examining geodetic glacier mass balance in the eastern Pamir transition zone

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Mingyang Lv, Duncan J. Quincey, Huadong Guo, Owen King, Guang Liu, Shiyong Yan, Xiancai Lu, Zhixing Ruan

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Glaciers in the eastern Pamir have reportedly been gaining mass during recent decades, even though glaciers in most other regions in High Mountain Asia have been in recession. Questions still remain about whether the trend is strengthening or weakening, and how far the positive balances extend into the eastern Pamir. To address these gaps, we use three different digital elevation models to reconstruct glacier surface elevation changes over two periods (2000–09 and 2000–15/16). We characterize the eastern Pamir as a zone of transition from positive to negative mass balance with the boundary lying at the northern end of Kongur Tagh, and find that glaciers situated at higher elevations are those with the most positive balances. Most (67% of 55) glaciers displayed a net mass gain since the 21st century. This led to an increasing regional geodetic glacier mass balance from −0.06 ± 0.16 m w.e. a−1 in 2000–09 to 0.06 ± 0.04 m w.e. a−1 in 2000–15/16. Surge-type glaciers, which are prevalent in the eastern Pamir, showed fluctuations in mass balance on an individual scale during and after surges, but no statistical difference compared to non-surge-type glaciers when aggregated across the region.


Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Glaciology
VolumeFirst View
Early online date3 Aug 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Aug 2020

    Research areas

  • Digital elevation model, Eastern Pamir, Glacier mass balance, Surge-type glaciers

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