11 Aug 2022
11 Aug 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

A new inventory of High Mountain Asia surge-type glaciers derived from multiple elevation datasets since the 1970s

Lei Guo1, Jia Li1, Amaury Dehecq2, Zhiwei Li1, Xin Li3, and Jianjun Zhu1 Lei Guo et al.
  • 1School of Geo-science and Info-physics, Central South University, Changsha, 410083, China
  • 2Univ. Grenoble Alpes, IRD, CNRS, Grenoble INP, IGE, Grenoble, 38000, France
  • 3Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100101, China

Abstract. Surges are an important source of glacier hazards and complete surge-type glacier inventories are required for assessing glacier-related hazards. Glacier surge events in High Mountain Asia (HMA) are widely reported. However, the completeness of present inventories of HMA surge-type glaciers is constrained by the insufficient spatial and temporal coverage of glacier change observations, or by the limitations of the identification methods. In this paper, we established a new inventory of HMA surge-type glaciers based on the glacier surface elevation changes over four decades. Four kinds of elevation sources (KH-9 DEM, NASADEM, COP30 DEM, HMA8m DEM) were utilized to estimate the glacier surface elevation changes during two periods (1970s–2000 and 2000–2010s). In total 1015 surge-type glaciers were identified in HMA. Compared to the latest surge-type glacier inventory in HMA, our inventory incorporated 477 new surge-type glaciers. The number and area of surge-type glaciers accounted for ~2.49 % (excluding glaciers less than 0.3 km2) and ~23.32 % of the total glacier number and glacier area in HMA, respectively. Considering that glacier outlines are usually composed of multiple tributaries within a glacier complex, the proportion of surge-related area may be overestimated, and the number of surge-type glaciers could be even larger. Surge-type glaciers were found in 21 of the 22 subregions of HMA (except for the Dzhungarsky Alatau), however, the density of surge-type glaciers is highly uneven. Surge-type glaciers are common in the northwest subregions (e.g., Pamir and Karakoram), but scarce in the peripheral subregions (e.g., Eastern Tien Shan, Eastern Himalaya, and Hengduan Shan). The inventory indicates that surge activity is more likely to occur for larger and longer glaciers. Besides, we found a potential relationship between the frequency of surge activities andregional glacier mass balance. The subregions with slightly negative or positive mass balance hold large clusters of surge-type glaciers, while those with severe glacier mass loss hold very few surge-type glaciers. In some subregions where glacier mass loss accelerated, the frequency of surge activities that occurred before 2000 was much higher than that after 2000. The inventory is available at: (Guo et al., 2022).  

Lei Guo et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • AC1: 'Presented inventory in the format of ESRI shapefile', Lei Guo, 22 Aug 2022
  • RC1: 'Comment on essd-2022-238', Gregoire Guillet, 16 Sep 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC1', Lei Guo, 22 Nov 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on essd-2022-238', Frank Paul, 10 Oct 2022
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC2', Lei Guo, 22 Nov 2022
  • EC1: 'Editorial assessment on essd-2022-238', Georg Veh, 19 Oct 2022

Lei Guo et al.

Data sets

A new inventory of High Mountain Asia surge-type glaciers derived from multiple elevation datasets since the 1970s Lei Guo, Jia Li, Amaury Dehecq, Zhiwei Li, Xin Li, Jianjun Zhu

Lei Guo et al.


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Short summary
Glacier surge is an important causer of mountain hazards. A complete surge-type glacier inventory can greatly facilitate the assessment of glacier-related hazards. Here we present a new surge-type glacier inventory across High Mountain Asia (HMA) from multiple DEMs. The inventory has incorporated 1015 surge-type glaciers during 1970s–2010s. Our result demonstrated a more widespread surge behavior in HMA, and a potential relationship between the surge frequency and regional mass balance.