Multitemporal space imagery from 1962 (Corona KH-4), 1992 (Landsat TM), 2001 and 2005 (Terra ASTER) was used to investigate the glacier changes in the Khumbu Himal, Nepal. The ice coverage in the investigation area decreased by about 5% between 1962 and 2005, with the highest retreat rates occurring between 1992 and 2001. The debris coverage increased concomitantly with the decrease in total glacier area. The clean-ice area decreased by >10%. Digital terrain model (DTM) generation from the early Corona KH-4 stereo data in this high-relief terrain is time-consuming, and the results still contain some elevation errors. However, these are minor in the snow-free areas with gentle slopes. Thus comparison of the surfaces of the debris-covered glacier tongues based on the Corona DTM and an ASTER DTM is feasible and shows the downwasting of the debris-covered glaciers. The highest downwasting rates, more than 20m (>0.5 ma-1), can be found near the transition zone between the active and the stagnant glacier parts of the debris-covered glacier tongues. The downwasting is lower, but still evident, in the active ice areas and at the snout with thick debris cover. All investigated debris-covered glaciers in the study area show similar behaviour. The estimated volume loss for the investigated debris-covered glacier tongues is 0.19 km3.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth-Surface Processes