INVESTIGATION OF MOUNTAIN GLACIER STORAGE AND ITS CHANGES DURING 2000–2016 IN THE WESTERN TIBETAN PLATEAU USING COMBINED GROUND AND SATELLITE OBSERVATIONS
Keywords: Upper Indus River Basin (UIB), Glacier Thickness, Ground-Penetrating Radar, GlabTOP2, Glacier Volume, Glacier Elevation Change
Abstract. The Upper Indus River Basin (UIB) has developed the largest midlatitude mountain glaciers worldwide. Ice thickness and volume distribution are important prerequisites for glaciological and hydrological investigations. In this paper, we presented detailed estimates of ice thickness in UIB region. Using ground penetrating radar, we measured glacier ice thickness on six typical glaciers; we obtained the parameters of the GlabTOP2 from these measurements and analyzed its uncertainty. Using the verified GlabTOP2 model, we simulated glacier ice thickness and volume in UIB subcatchments. The simulated results indicated that the UIB glacier thickness distribution was not uniform, ranging from 0 to 488 m, with an average thickness of 78 m. Total volume was defined as 1269.70 km3 in 2000, which corresponded to 1142.73 km3 water volume. According to the calculated discharge data from the Besham hydrological station, the total glacier volume of UIB generally can supply water resources for the downstream area for at least 15 years. And the glacier surface elevations generally decreased from 2000 to 2016 in UIB subbasins, although there was significant spatial heterogeneity in the seven subcatchments. The annual glacier surface elevation change rate of the Hindu Kush area was the smallest, followed by that of the Karakoram. The greatest glacier elevation change rate was observed in the Western Himalaya, indicating rapid glacial melting.