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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 10, issue 1
The Cryosphere, 10, 65-85, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-10-65-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
The Cryosphere, 10, 65-85, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-10-65-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 18 Jan 2016

Research article | 18 Jan 2016

Comparison of multiple glacier inventories with a new inventory derived from high-resolution ALOS imagery in the Bhutan Himalaya

H. Nagai1, K. Fujita2, A. Sakai2, T. Nuimura3, and T. Tadono1 H. Nagai et al.
  • 1Earth Observation Research Center, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Tsukuba, Japan
  • 2Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan
  • 3Faculty of Risk and Crisis Management, Chiba Institute of Science, Choshi, Japan

Abstract. Digital glacier inventories are invaluable data sets for revealing the characteristics of glacier distribution and for upscaling measurements from selected locations to entire mountain ranges. Here, we present a new inventory of Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS) imagery and compare it with existing inventories for the Bhutan Himalaya. The new inventory contains 1583 glaciers (1487 ± 235km2), thereof 219 debris-covered glaciers (951 ± 193km2) and 1364 debris-free glaciers (536 ± 42km2). Moreover, we propose an index for quantifying consistency between two glacier outlines. Comparison of the overlap ratio demonstrates that the ALOS-derived glacier inventory contains delineation uncertainties of 10–20% which depend on glacier size, that the shapes and geographical locations of glacier outlines derived from the fourth version of the Randolph Glacier Inventory have been improved in the fifth version, and that the latter is consistent with other inventories. In terms of whole glacier distribution, each data set is dominated by glaciers of 1.0–5.0km2 area (31–34% of the total area), situated at approximately 5400m elevation (nearly 10% in 100m bin) with either north or south aspects (22 and 15%). However, individual glacier outlines and their area exhibit clear differences among inventories. Furthermore, consistent separation of glaciers with inconspicuous termini remains difficult, which, in some cases, results in different values for glacier number. High-resolution imagery from Google Earth can be used to improve the interpretation of glacier outlines, particularly for debris-covered areas and steep adjacent slopes.

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Digital glacier inventories are invaluable data sets for revealing the characteristics of glacier distribution. However, quantitative comparison of present inventories was not performed. Here, we present a new inventory manually delineated from Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS) imagery and compare it with existing inventories for the Bhutan Himalaya. Quantification of overlapping among available glacier outlines suggests consistency and recent improvement of their delineation quality.
Digital glacier inventories are invaluable data sets for revealing the characteristics of...
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