Longest time series of glacier mass changes in the Himalaya based on stereo imagery
1Institut für Kartographie, Technische Universität Dresden, Germany
2The University Centre in Svalbard, Norway
3Geographisches Institut, Universität Zürich, Switzerland
4University of St Andrews, UK
Abstract. Mass loss of Himalayan glaciers has wide-ranging consequences such as declining water resources, sea level rise and an increasing risk of glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs). The assessment of the regional and global impact of glacier changes in the Himalaya is, however, hampered by a lack of mass balance data for most of the range. Multi-temporal digital terrain models (DTMs) allow glacier mass balance to be calculated since the availability of stereo imagery. Here we present the longest time series of mass changes in the Himalaya and show the high value of early stereo spy imagery such as Corona (years 1962 and 1970) aerial images and recent high resolution satellite data (Cartosat-1) to calculate a time series of glacier changes south of Mt. Everest, Nepal. We reveal that the glaciers are significantly losing mass with an increasing rate since at least ~1970, despite thick debris cover. The specific mass loss is 0.32 ± 0.08 m w.e. a−1, however, not higher than the global average. The spatial patterns of surface lowering can be explained by variations in debris-cover thickness, glacier velocity, and ice melt due to exposed ice cliffs and ponds.