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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
03 Apr 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).
The Greater Caucasus Glacier Inventory (Russia/Georgia/Azerbaijan)
Levan G. Tielidze1,3 and Roger D. Wheate2 1Department of Geomorphology, Vakhushti Bagrationi Institute of Geography, Ivane, Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, 6 Tamarashvili st., Tbilisi, Georgia, 0177
2Natural Resources and Environmental Studies, University of Northern British Columbia, 3333 University Way, Prince George, BC, Canada, V2N 4Z9
3Department of Earth Sciences, Georgian National Academy of Sciences, 52 Rustaveli Ave., Tbilisi, Georgia, 0108
Abstract. While there are a large number of glaciers in the Greater Caucasus, the region is not fully represented in modern glacier databases with previous incomplete inventories. Here, we present an expanded glacier inventory for this region over the 1960–1986–2014 period. Large scale topographic maps and satellite imagery (Landsat 5, Landsat 8 and ASTER) were used to conduct a remote sensing survey of glacier change in the Greater Caucasus mountains. Glacier margins were mapped manually and reveal that, in 1960, the mountains contained 2349 glaciers, with a total glacier surface area of 1674.9 ± 35.2 km2. By 1986, glacier surface area had decreased to 1482.1 ± 32.2 km2 (2209 glaciers), and by 2014, to 1193.2 ± 27.0 km2 (2020 glaciers). This represents a 28.8 ± 2.2 % (481 ± 10.6 km2) reduction in total glacier surface area between 1960 and 2014 and a marked acceleration in the rate of area loss since 1986. Analysis of possible controls suggest that the general decreases in both glacier area and number for the period 1960–2014 are directly due to general increase in temperature, especially in summer (June–July–August), although the response of individual glaciers was modulated by other factors, including glacier size, elevation, rock structure, exposition, morphological type and debris cover. This new glacier inventory can be used as a basis dataset for future studies including glacier change assessment.

Citation: Tielidze, L. G. and Wheate, R. D.: The Greater Caucasus Glacier Inventory (Russia/Georgia/Azerbaijan), The Cryosphere Discuss.,, in review, 2017.
Levan G. Tielidze and Roger D. Wheate
Levan G. Tielidze and Roger D. Wheate
Levan G. Tielidze and Roger D. Wheate


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Short summary
This is a first paper containing the Greater Caucasus glacier area and number change over the 1960–1986–2014 period by individual river basins and countries. During the research we used old topographical maps form 1960 and Landsat/ASTER imagery from 1986/2014. In addition air temperature and precipitation course of the seven meteorological stations has been studied. The separate sections and slopes have been revealed, where there are the highest indices of the reduction in area of the glaciers.
This is a first paper containing the Greater Caucasus glacier area and number change over the...