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Glacier characteristics and retreat between 1991 and 2014 in the Ladakh Range, Jammu and Kashmir

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Chudley, TR 
Miles, ES 
Willis, IC 


Glaciers in the Ladakh Range lie between the Himalaya, a monsoon-forced region of glacier retreat, and the Karakoram, a region of anomalous glacier stability driven by mid-latitude westerlies. Given this context, glaciers might be expected to display behaviour intermediate to the two adjacent ranges. However, no glacier change data have been compiled for the Ladakh Range itself. Here, we examine 864 glaciers in the central section of the Ladakh Range, covering a number of smaller glaciers not included in alternative glacier inventories. Glaciers in the range are small (median 0.25 km²; maximum 6.58 km²) and largely distributed 5000–6000 m above sea level (a.s.l.). 657 glaciers are available for multitemporal analysis between 1991 to 2014 using data from Landsat multispectral sensors. We find glaciers to have lost 12.8% of their area over the period. Glacier changes are consistent with observations in the Western Himalaya (to the south) and in sharp contrast with the Karakoram (to the north) in spite of its proximity to the latter. We suggest this sharp transition must be explained at least in part by non-climatic mechanisms (such as debris covering or hypsometry), or that the climatic factors responsible for the Karakoram behaviour are extremely localised.



37 Earth Sciences, 3709 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience, 13 Climate Action

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Remote Sensing Letters

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Taylor and Francis Inc.