Glacial evolution in the Ayilariju region, Western Himalaya, China: 1980–2011

  • Zhiguo Li
  • Lide Tian
  • Haiyan Fang
  • Shuhong Zhang
  • Jingjing Zhang
  • Xuexin Li
Original Article


Changes in glacial geometries (extent and surface elevations) in the Ayilariju region of Western Himalaya, China, were investigated using topographical maps and data from the Landsat Thematic Mapper/Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus, the Satellite Pour l’Observation de la Terre (SPOT4), the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission 4.1 digital elevation model, and geographical information system techniques. The results showed that the total glaciated area decreased from 190.37 to 162.52 km2 (14.6 % of the 1980 glaciated area) from 1980 to 2011. Furthermore, total glacial mass loss of studied region was estimated to be 2.570 ± 0.327 km3 between 1980 and 2000. Further investigation on meteorological data indicated that increases of temperature and total radiation were the primary causes of accelerated glacial melting. Reduced wind speed and slight decreases in precipitation triggered by weakening of the South Asian summer monsoon due to warming, may also have contributed to glacial shrinkage. The rate of glacial retreat in the studied region is lower than that in the southern Himalayan region, but larger than that in the Karakoram, primarily because Ayilariju glaciers were located on the margin of the Indian monsoon dominated region.


Glacial evolution Remote sensing Western Himalaya Ayilariju region 


  1. Bajracharya SR, Maharjan SB, Shrestha F, Guo W, Liu SY, Immerzeel W, Shrestha B (2015) The glaciers of the Hindu Kush Himalayas: current status and observed changes from the 1980s to 2010. Int J Water Resour Dev 31(2):161–173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Berthier E, Arnaud Y, Kumar R, Ahmad S, Wagnon P, Chevallier P (2007) Remote sensing estimates of glacier mass balances in the Himachal Pradesh (Western Himalaya, India). Remote Sens Environ 108:327–338CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brahmbhatt RM, Bahuguna IM, Rathore BP, Singh SK, Rajawat AS, Shah RD, Kargel JS (2015) Satellite monitoring of glaciers in the Karakoram from 1977 to 2013: an overall almost stable population of dynamic glaciers. Cryosphere Discuss 9:1555–1592CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cao B, Pan BT, Wang J, Shangguan DH, Wen ZL, Qi WT, Cui H, Lu YY (2014) Changes in the glacier extent and surface elevation along the Ningchan and Shuiguan river source, eastern Qilian Mountains, China. Quat Res 81(3):531–537CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chen F, Yu Z, Yang M, Ito E, Wang S, Madsen DB, Huang X, Zhao Y, Sato T, John B, Birks H, Boomer I, Chen J, An C, Wünnemann B (2008) Holocene moisture evolution in arid central Asia and its out-of-phase relationship with Asian monsoon history. Quat Sci Rev 27:351–364CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Gardelle J, Berthier E, Arnaud Y, Kääb A (2013) Region-wide glacier mass balances over the Pamir–Karakoram–Himalaya during 1999–2011. Cryosphere 7(4):1263–1286CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Gardner AS, Moholdt G, Cogley JG, Bert Wouters, Arendt AA, Wahr J, Berthier E, Hock R, Pfeffer WT, Kaser G, Ligtenberg SRM, Bolch T, Sharp MJ, Hagen JO, van den Broeke MR, Paul F (2013) A reconciled estimate of glacier contributions to sea level rise: 2003 to 2009. Science 340(6134):852–857CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ghosh S, Pandey AC, Nathawat MS, Bahuguna IM, Ajai (2014) Contrasting signals of glacier changes in Zanskar valley, Jammu & Kashmir, India using remote sensing and GIS. J Indian Soc Remote 42(4):817–827CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hewitt K (2005) The Karakoram anomaly? Glacier expansion and the ‘elevation effect’, Karakoram Himalaya. Mt Res Dev 25(4):332–340CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Immerzeel WW, van Beek LPH, Bierkens MFP (2010) Climate change will affect the Asian water towers. Science 328(5984):1382–1385CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kääb A, Berthier E, Nuth C, Gardelle J, Arnaud Y (2012) Contrasting patterns of early twenty-first-century glacier mass change in the Himalayas. Nature 488(7412):495–498CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Li CX, Yang TB, Tian HZ (2013) Variation of West Kunlun Mountains glacier during 1990–2011. Prog Geog 32(4):548–559 (in Chinese with English abstract) Google Scholar
  13. Li ZG, Fang HY, Tian LD, Dai YF, Zong JB (2015) Changes in the glacier extent and surface elevation in Xiongcaigangri region, Southern Karakoram Mountains, China. Quat Int 371:67–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Liu SY, Wang NL, Ding YJ, Xie ZC (1999) On the characteristic of glacier fluctuations during the last 30 years in Urumqi River Basin and the estimation of temperature rise in the high mountain area. Adv Earth Sci 14(3):279–285 (in Chinese with English abstract) Google Scholar
  15. Mir RA, Jainb SK, Sarafa AK, Goswamic A (2014) Glacier changes using satellite data and effect of climate in Tirungkhad basin located in western Himalaya. Geocarto Int 29(3):293–313CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Mölg T, Maussion F, Scherer D (2014) Mid-latitude westerlies as a driver of glacier variability in monsoonal High Asia. Nat Clim Change 4(4):68–73Google Scholar
  17. Neckel N, Kropáček J, Bolch T, Hochschild V (2014) Glacier mass changes on the Tibetan Plateau 2003–2009 derived from ICESat laser altimetry measurements. Environ Res Lett 9(1):014009CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Piao S, Ciais P, Huang Y, Shen ZH, Peng SS, Li JS, Zhou LP, Liu HY, Ma YC, Ding YH, Friedlingstein P, Liu CZ, Tan K, Yu YQ, Zhang TY, Fang JY (2010) The impacts of climate change on water resources and agriculture in China. Nature 467(7311):43–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Qiu J (2010) Measuring the meltdown. Nature 468(7321):141–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Racoviteanu AE, Arnaud Y, Williams MW, Manley WF (2015) Spatial patterns in glacier characteristics and area changes from 1962 to 2006 in the Kanchenjunga–Sikkim area, eastern Himalaya. Cryosphere 9:505–523CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Raup BH, Kääb A, Kargel JS, Bishop MP, Hamilton G, Lee E, Paul F, Rau F, Soltesz D, Khalsa SJS, Beedle M, Helm C (2007) Remote sensing and GIS technology in the Global Land Ice Measurements from Space Project. Comput Geosci UK 33(1):104–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Reuter HI, Nelson A, Jarvis A (2007) An evaluation of void filling interpolation methods for SRTM data. Int J Geogr Inf Sci 21(9):983–1008CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Roxy MK, Ritika K, Terray P, Murtugudde R, Ashok K, Goswami BN (2015) Drying of Indian subcontinent by rapid Indian Ocean warming and a weakening land–sea thermal gradient. Nat Commun 6:7423CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Shi YF (2008) Concise glacier inventory of China. Shanghai Popular Science Press, ShanghaiGoogle Scholar
  25. Tennant C, Menounos B, Wheate R, Clague JJ (2012) Area change of glaciers in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, 1919 to 2006. Cryosphere 6:1541–1552CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Wang J, Wang J, Lu C (2003) Problem of coordinate transformation between WGS-84 and BEIJING 54. J Geodesy Geodyn 23:70–73 (in Chinese with English abstract) Google Scholar
  27. Wang L, Li ZQ, Wang FT, Edwards R (2014) Glacier shrinkage in the Ebinur lake basin, Tien Shan, China, during the past 40 years. J Glaciol 60(220):245–254CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Wiltshire A J (2014) Climate change implications for the glaciers of the Hindu Kush, Karakoram and Himalayan region. Cryosphere 8(3):941–958CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Xiang Y, Gao Y, Yao TD (2014) Glacier change in the Poiqu River basin inferred from Landsat data from 1975 to 2010. Quat Int 349(28):392–401CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Xu BQ, Cao JJ, Hansen J, Yao TD, Joswia DR, Wang NL, Wu GJ, Wang M, Zhao HB, Yang W, Liu XQ, He JQ (2009) Black soot and the survival of Tibetan glaciers. Proc Natl Acad Sci 106(52):22114–22118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Yang XM, Li ZX, Feng Q, He YQ, An WL, Zhang W, Cao WH, Yu TF, Wang YM, Theakstone WH (2012) The decreasing wind speed in southwestern China during 1969–2009, and possible causes. Quat Int 263:71–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Yang K, Wu H, Qin J, Lin CG, Tang WJ, Chen YY (2014) Recent climate changes over the Tibetan Plateau and their impacts on energy and water cycle: A review. Glob Planet Change 112:79–91CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Yao TD (2008) Map of glaciers and lakes on the Tibetan Plateau and the surroundings. Xi'an Cartographic Publishing House, Xi'anGoogle Scholar
  34. Yao TD, Thompson L, Yang W, Yu WY, Gao Y, Guo XJ, Yang XX, Duan KQ, Zhao HB, Xu BQ, Pu JC, Lu AX, Xiang Y, Kattel DB, Joswiak D (2012) Different glacier status with atmospheric circulations in Tibetan Plateau and surroundings. Nat Clim Change 2(9):663–667CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Ye QH, Kang SC, Chen F, Wang JH (2006) Monitoring glacier variations on Geladandong mountain, central Tibetan Plateau, from 1969 to 2002 using remote-sensing and GIS technologies. J Glaciol 52(179):537–545CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. You QL, Fraedrich K, Min JZ, Kang SC, Zhu XH, Pepine N, Zhanga L (2014) Observed surface wind speed in the Tibetan Plateau since 1980 and its physical causes. Int J Climatol 34:1873–1882CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Zeng L, Yang TB, Tian HZ (2013) Response of glacier variations in the eastern Pamirs plateau to climate change, during the last 40 years. J Arid Land Resour Environ 27(5):144–150Google Scholar
  38. Zhang YS, Yao TD, Pu JC (1996) The characteristics of ablation on continental type glaciers in China. J Glacio & Geocryo 18(2):147–154 (in Chinese with English abstract) Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhiguo Li
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lide Tian
    • 2
  • Haiyan Fang
    • 3
  • Shuhong Zhang
    • 4
  • Jingjing Zhang
    • 1
  • Xuexin Li
    • 1
  1. 1.Environment and Planning CollegeShangqiu Normal UniversityShangqiuChina
  2. 2.Institute of Tibetan Plateau ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  4. 4.Life Science CollegeShangqiu Normal UniversityShangqiuChina

Personalised recommendations