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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 6, issue 2
The Cryosphere, 6, 467-478, 2012
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-6-467-2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
The Cryosphere, 6, 467-478, 2012
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-6-467-2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 10 Apr 2012

Research article | 10 Apr 2012

Repeat optical satellite images reveal widespread and long term decrease in land-terminating glacier speeds

T. Heid and A. Kääb T. Heid and A. Kääb
  • Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, Box 1047 Blindern, 0316 Oslo, Norway

Abstract. By matching of repeat optical satellite images it is now possible to investigate glacier dynamics within large regions of the world and also between regions to improve knowledge about glacier dynamics in space and time. In this study we investigate whether the negative glacier mass balance seen over large parts of the world has caused the glaciers to change their speeds. The studied regions are Pamir, Caucasus, Penny Ice Cap, Alaska Range and Patagonia. In addition we derive speed changes for Karakoram, a region assumed to have positive mass balance and that contains many surge-type glaciers. We find that the mapped glaciers in the five regions with negative mass balance have over the last decades decreased their velocity at an average rate per decade of: 43 % in the Pamir, 8 % in the Caucasus, 25 % on Penny Ice Cap, 11 % in the Alaska Range and 20 % in Patagonia. Glaciers in Karakoram have generally increased their speeds, but surging glaciers and glaciers with flow instabilities are most prominent in this area. Therefore the calculated average speed change is not representative for this area.

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