Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 74, Issue 3, pp 1871–1881 | Cite as

Glacier surface motion pattern in the Eastern part of West Kunlun Shan estimation using pixel-tracking with PALSAR imagery

  • Shiyong Yan
  • Guang LiuEmail author
  • Yunjia Wang
  • Zbigniew Perski
  • Zhixing Ruan
Thematic Issue


Mountain glacier is considered as one of the most sensitive natural indicators of climate change. Glacier surface motion distribution in West Kunlun Shan (WKS) has been attracting considerable attention and represents a fundamental glacier parameter for better understanding glacier dynamics, ice mass balance, and even for the climate change. This paper would present the accurate ice motion observation of mountain glacier in eastern part of WKS by the refined pixel-tracking method with phased array type L-band synthetic aperture radar images acquired on December 13, 2008 and January 28, 2009. The standard deviation values in nonglacial area before/after topographic effect compensation are 0.61 and 0.43 m, respectively, during 46-day temporal interval. In addition, the terrain almost is a determining factor of ice velocity distribution in study area because the elevation of topography is generally shown to be positive correlated with glacier surface velocity along the central line. Furthermore, with estimated detailed glacier surface movement distribution pattern, we found that the continental glaciers were actively moving with spatially variable ice motion, while the icecaps maintain the stable status without apparent motion on most part of surface. Therefore, the refined SAR-based pixel-tracking method, including topographic effect compensation operation, provides a useful and robust tool to map and measure the glacier motion in mountain area with complex terrain.


Mountain glacier Ice surface velocity Pixel-tracking technique West Kunlun Shan ALOS/PALSAR 



The work was supported by the Funds from International Cooperation and Exchange of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41120114001), Key Program for International Cooperation Projects of CAS (No. 131211KYSB20150035), and Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (No. 2015QNA32). The study also was partially supported by a Project Funded by the Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions. The ALOS/PALSAR SAR data employed in this study were archived and provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shiyong Yan
    • 1
  • Guang Liu
    • 2
    Email author
  • Yunjia Wang
    • 1
  • Zbigniew Perski
    • 3
  • Zhixing Ruan
    • 2
  1. 1.Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Resources and Environmental Engineering, School of Environment Science and Spatial InformaticsChina University of Mining and TechnologyXuzhouChina
  2. 2.Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital EarthChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Polish Geological Institute - National Research Institute, Carphatian BranchCracowPoland

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