Velocity variations and hydrological drainage at Baltoro Glacier, Pakistan

Wendleder A, Bramboeck J, Izzard J, Erbertseder T, D'Angelo P, Schmitt A, Quincey DJ, Mayer C, Braun M (2024)

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2024


Book Volume: 18

Pages Range: 1085-1103

Journal Issue: 3

DOI: 10.5194/tc-18-1085-2024


Glacial meltwater directly influences glacier dynamics. However, in the case of debris-covered glaciers, the drivers of glacier velocity and the influence of supraglacial lakes have not yet been sufficiently analysed and understood. We present a spatio-Temporal analysis of key glacier characteristics for Baltoro Glacier in the Karakoram from October 2016 to September 2022 based on Earth observation data and climate parameters extracted from the High Asia Refined analysis (HAR) data set. For the glacier variables, we used surface velocity, supraglacial lake extent, melt of snow and ice, and proglacial run-off index. For climate variables, we focused on air temperature and precipitation. The surface velocity of Baltoro Glacier was characterized by a spring speed-up, summer peak, and fall speed-up with a relative increase in summer of 0.2-0.3ĝ€¯mĝ€¯d-1 (75ĝ€¯%-100ĝ€¯%) in relation to winter velocities, triggered by the onset of or an increase in basal sliding. Snow and ice melt have the largest impact on the spring speed-up, summer velocity peak, and the transition from inefficient to efficient subglacial drainage. The melt covered up to 64ĝ€¯% (353ĝ€¯km2) of the entirety (debris-covered and debris-free) of Baltoro Glacier and reached up to 4700ĝ€¯mĝ€¯a.s.l. during the first melt peak and up to 5600ĝ€¯mĝ€¯a.s.l. during summer. The temporal delay between the initial peak of seasonal melt and the first relative velocity maximum decreases downglacier. Drainage from supraglacial lakes (3.6-5.9ĝ€¯km2) contributed to the fall speed-up, which showed a 0.1-0.2ĝ€¯mĝ€¯d-1 (20ĝ€¯%-30ĝ€¯%) lower magnitude compared to the summer velocity peak. Most of the run-off can be attributed to the melt of snow and ice. However, from mid-June onward, the lakes play an increasing role, even though their contribution is estimated to be only about half of that of the melt. The observed increase in summer air temperatures leads to a greater extent of melt, as well as to a rise in the number and total area of supraglacial lakes. This tendency is expected to intensify in a future warming climate.

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Wendleder, A., Bramboeck, J., Izzard, J., Erbertseder, T., D'Angelo, P., Schmitt, A.,... Braun, M. (2024). Velocity variations and hydrological drainage at Baltoro Glacier, Pakistan. Cryosphere, 18(3), 1085-1103.


Wendleder, Anna, et al. "Velocity variations and hydrological drainage at Baltoro Glacier, Pakistan." Cryosphere 18.3 (2024): 1085-1103.

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