Expanded and Recently Increased Glacier Surging in the Karakoram

Copland, Luke; Sylvestre, Tyler; Bishop, Michael P.; Shroder, John F.; Seong, Yeong Bae; Owen, Lewis A.; Bush, Andrew; Kamp, Ulrich
November 2011
Arctic, Antarctic & Alpine Research;Nov2011, Vol. 43 Issue 4, p503
Academic Journal
A review of published literature and satellite imagery from the late 1960s onwards has revealed 90 surge-type glaciers in the Karakoram mountains, of which 50 have not previously been described in detail. These glaciers were identified by a number of surface features indicative of surge-type behavior such as looped moraines, rapid terminus advance, strandlines and rapid changes in surface crevassing. These observations indicate that surge-type behavior is more common and widespread than previously believed on Karakoram glaciers. There is strong spatial clustering of the surge-type glaciers, and a doubling in the number of new surges in the 14 years after 1990 (26 surges) than in the 14 years before 1990 (13 surges). This is coincident with a period of increased precipitation and positive glacier mass balance in this region, and supports previous studies which have found that mass balance has an important control on the frequency of glacier surging.


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