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Changes in glacier volume on Mt. Gongga, southeastern Tibetan Plateau, based on the analysis of multi-temporal DEMs from 1966 to 2015

  • BO CAO (a1), BAOTIAN PAN (a1), WEIJIN GUAN (a1), ZHENLING WEN (a1) and JIE WANG (a1)...


The accelerated retreat of glaciers and the reduction of glacier ice reserves caused by climate change can significantly affect regional water resources and hydrological cycles. Changes in glacier thickness are among the key indicators that reflect this process. We analyzed changes observed in the elevation of glacier surfaces in the Gongga Mountains (GGM) using multi-temporal Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) derived from topographic maps, SRTM, ICESat and ZY-3 data. The results showed that the mean rate of change in glacier surface altitude in the GGM was ~−26.7 ± 2.03 m (0.54 ± 0.04 m a−1) between 1966 and 2015. The mean melt rates differed over different time periods, latterly showing an accelerating trend. As a general rule, glaciers appear to be losing more volume at lower than at higher elevations. Further analysis of these results suggests that supraglacial debris coverage in the GGM promotes higher rates of mass loss.

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      Changes in glacier volume on Mt. Gongga, southeastern Tibetan Plateau, based on the analysis of multi-temporal DEMs from 1966 to 2015
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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is unaltered and is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use or in order to create a derivative work.

Corresponding author

Correspondence: Baotian Pan <>


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