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Glacial lake outburst flood hazards in the Himalayan region have received considerable attention in recent years. Accurate volume estimation for glacial lakes is important for calculating outburst flood peak discharge and simulating flood evolution. Longbasaba lake, a potentially dangerous moraine-dammed lake, is located on the north side of the Himalaya. Its depth was surveyed using the SyQwest Hydrobox™ high-resolution echo sounder, and 6916 measurements were collected in September 2009. The maximum and average depths of the lake were 102 ± 2 and 48 ± 2 m, respectively. The morphology of the lake basin was modeled by constructing a triangulated irregular network, and the lake was found to have a storage capacity of 0.064 ± 0.002 km3. Multi-source remote-sensing images from Landsat MSS, Landsat TM/ETM+ and Terra ASTER and a topographic map were digitized to delineate the outlines of the lake between 1977 and 2009. The results indicate that the length and area of the lake have increased during the past 32 years, with a drastic expansion occurring since 2000. Based on volume and area data of Longbasaba lake in different periods, we deduced an empirical equation of the lake volume-area relationship that can be used to calculate the storage capacity of similar moraine-dammed lakes in the Himalayan region.
We use remote-sensing and GIS technologies to monitor glacier changes in the Koshi River basin, central Himalaya. The results indicate that in 2009 there were 2061 glaciers in this region, with a total area of 3225 ±90.3 km2. This glacier population is divided into 1290 glaciers, with a total area of 1961 ±54.9 km2, on the north side of the Himalaya (NSH), and 771 glaciers, with a total area of 1264 ± 35.4 km2, on the south side of the Himalaya (SSH). From 1976 to 2009, glacier area in the basin decreased by about 19±5.6% (0.59±0.17%a–1). Glacier reduction was slightly faster on SSH (20.3 ±5.6%) than on NSH (18.8±5.6%). The maximum contribution to glacier area loss came from glaciers within the 1-5 km2 area interval, which accounted for 32% of total area loss between 1976 and 2009. The number of glaciers in the Koshi River catchment decreased by 145 between 1976 and 2009. Glacier area on SSH decreased at a rate of 6.2 ±3.2% (0.68 ±0.36% a–1), faster than on NSH, where the rate was 2.5 ±3.2% (0.27±0.36% a–1) during 2000-09. Based on records from Tingri weather station, we infer that temperature increase and precipitation decrease were the main causes of glacier thinning and retreat during the 1976-2000 period. Glacier retreat during the 2000-09 period appears to be controlled by temperature increase, since precipitation increase over this period did not offset ice losses to surface melting.
The Tibetan Plateau interior area (TPIA), often termed the Qangtang Plateau, is distinguished by many dome-like mountains higher than 6000 ma.s.l. These mountains provide favourable conditions for the development of ice caps and glaciers of extreme continental/subpolar type. According to historical topographic maps (1959–80) and recent Landsat images (2004–11), continuous retreat was observed and the glacierized part of this area decreased by 9.5% (0.27% a–1) with respect to the total glacier area of 8036.4 km2 in the 1970s. Glaciers in the Zhari Namco basin have experienced the highest area shrinkage, with a reduction rate of 0.72% a–1, while the smallest reduction occurred in Bangong Co (0.12% a–1) and Dogai Coying basins (0.11% a–1). A regional gradient of area loss was found, with a larger decrease in the south and a smaller decrease in the north of the plateau. Comparisons indicate glaciers have experienced smaller shrinkage in the TPIA than in surrounding regions. Glacier shrinkage in the TPIA is mainly attributed to an increase in air temperature, while precipitation, glacier size and positive difference of glaciation also played an important role.
The second Chinese glacier inventory was compiled based on 218 Landsat TM/ETM+ scenes acquired mainly during 2006–10. The widely used band ratio segmentation method was applied as the first step in delineating glacier outlines, and then intensive manual improvements were performed. The Shuttle Radar Topography Mission digital elevation model was used to derive altitudinal attributes of glaciers. The boundaries of some glaciers measured by real-time kinematic differential GPS or digitized from high-resolution images were used as references to validate the accuracy of the methods used to delineate glaciers, which resulted in positioning errors of ±10 m for manually improved clean-ice outlines and ±30 m for manually digitized outlines of debris-covered parts. The glacier area error of the compiled inventory, evaluated using these two positioning accuracies, was ±3.2%. The compiled parts of the new inventory have a total area of 43 087 km2, in which 1723 glaciers were covered by debris, with a total debris-covered area of 1494 km2. The area of uncompiled glaciers from the digitized first Chinese glacier inventory is ∼8753 km2, mainly distributed in the southeastern Tibetan Plateau, where no images of acceptable quality for glacier outline delineation can be found during 2006–10.