DynRG - TiP Project

Remote Sensing

Remote Sensing

Remote sensing data are essential for all research activities within the project: topographic data as input for atmospheric, glaciological and hydrological numerical models; multi-sensor approach for land- and glacier-surface properties and their variability in space and time, measurements of Surface Energy Balance (SEB) and Surface Mass Balance (SMB) components.

Quickbird scene of the Zhadang Glacier, with approximative positions of the AWS

A glacier inventory for the western Nyainqentanglha Range and glacier changes 1976-2009

Zhadang Glacier
Zhadang Glacier

A glacier inventory for the whole mountain range was generated for the year ∼2000 using automated remote sensing and GIS techniques based on Landsat ETM+ and SRTM3 DEM data. The whole mountain range contains about 960 glaciers covering an area of 795.6 km² while the ice in the drainage basin of Nam Co covers 198.1 km². The glacier area decreased between 1976 and 2001 by about 6 ± 3%, which is less than presented in previous studies based on topographic maps from the 1970s and Landsat data from 2000. Glaciers continued to shrink during the period 2001–2009. No advancing glaciers were detected.

Camera installation for daily stereographical imaging

Camera on Zhadang Glacier
Installed camera on Zhadang Glacier

In May 2010, two cameras were installed on an elevated location (side moraine) and configured to continuously take pictures during the ablation season. The first camera takes one picture a day (16H local time) and the second camera three pictures a day (00, 08 and 16H). It is planned to use the pictures to realize stereographic imaging of glacier daily volume changes.
The system also provides very useful information on the local weather conditions: cloud - coverage, snow - events, albedo changes etc. The weather during the monsoon season is changing rapidly: such short term events increase the surface albedo and therefore have an impact on energy balance at the glacier surface.
A very nice illustration of the strong weather variations during the ablation season 2010 is shown in the animation below, where glacier melt and accumulation are occurring simultaneously on a daily scale, a phenomenon very characteristic of glaciers of the "summer accumulation" type.

One ablation season on Zhadang Glacier
One ablation season on Zhadang Glacier
One ablation season on Zhadang Glacier: klicken, click to start animation!

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Bolch, T. et al. (2010):
A glacier inventory for the western Nyainqentanglha Range and the Nam Co Basin, Tibet, and glacier changes 1976–2009, The Cryosphere, 4, 419-433, DOI:10.5194/tc-4-419-2010 , 2010.