16 Mar 2022
16 Mar 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

Multitemporal glacier inventory revealing four decades of glacier changes in the Ladakh region

Mohd Soheb1, Alagappan Ramanathan1, Anshuman Bhardwaj2, Millie Coleman2,3, Brice Rea2, Matteo Spagnolo2, Shaktiman Singh2, and Lydia Sam2 Mohd Soheb et al.
  • 1School of Environmental Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India
  • 2School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom
  • 3School of Natural and Built Environment, Queen’s University Belfast, United Kingdom

Abstract. Glacier inventories, and changes therein, play an important role in understanding glacier dynamics and water resources over larger regions. In this study, we present a Landsat-based multi-temporal inventory of glaciers in four Upper Indus sub-basins and three internal drainage basins in the Ladakh region for the years 1977, 1994, 2009 and 2019. The study records data on 2257 glaciers (>0.5 km2) covering ~7923 ± 212 km2 equivalent to ~30 % of the glaciers and ~89 % of the glacierised area within the region. Results show that the highest concentration of glaciers is found in the higher elevation zones, between 5000 and 6000 m a.s.l, with most of them facing north. The area and length of nearly all the glaciers (~97 %) have decreased over the past 42 years, by 6.9 % and 12 % respectively. However, heterogeneity in glacier change was observed across the basins. Glaciers in Shayok Basin experienced the least deglaciation (~3.9 %), whereas Leh (~23 %) and Tsokar Basin (~26 %) experienced the greatest deglaciation over the 42 years (1977–2019). The major factors contributing to such differences were temperature, precipitation and size of the glaciers, with most changes occurring as a result of a drier winters and warmer summers. During the observation period, the region showed a statistically significant (at p < 0.01) increasing trend in mean annual, JJAS and winter temperatures.

Mohd Soheb et al.

Status: open (until 26 Jun 2022)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on essd-2022-60', Marcus Nüsser, 11 May 2022 reply

Mohd Soheb et al.

Data sets

Landsat-based multitemporal glacier inventory data of over four decades (1977-2019) for Ladakh region. Soheb, Mohd; Ramanathan, Alagappan; Bhardwaj, Anshuman; Coleman, Millie; Spagnolo, Matteo; Rea, Brice; Singh, Shaktiman; Sam, Lydia

Mohd Soheb et al.


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Short summary
This study provides datasets and understanding of the change in ~90 % of the glacierised area in the high-altitude Ladakh region, where the entire population depends on the snow and glacier meltwater sources for domestic and irrigation needs. It will benefit both the scientific community and the administration of the Union Territory of Ladakh, India, in developing efficient mitigation and adaptation strategies by improving the projections of change on timescales relevant to policymakers.