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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 8, issue 6
The Cryosphere, 8, 2313-2333, 2014
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-8-2313-2014
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
The Cryosphere, 8, 2313-2333, 2014
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-8-2313-2014
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 12 Dec 2014

Research article | 12 Dec 2014

Estimating the volume of glaciers in the Himalayan–Karakoram region using different methods

H. Frey1, H. Machguth2, M. Huss3, C. Huggel1, S. Bajracharya4, T. Bolch1,5, A. Kulkarni6, A. Linsbauer1,3, N. Salzmann1,3, and M. Stoffel7 H. Frey et al.
  • 1Department of Geography, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 2Arctic Technology Center, Technical University of Denmark, Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark
  • 3Department of Geosciences, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland
  • 4International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, ICIMOD, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • 5Instuitute for Cartography, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany
  • 6Divecha Center for Climate Change, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India
  • 7Climatic Change and Climate Impacts, Institute for Environmental Sciences, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland

Abstract. Ice volume estimates are crucial for assessing water reserves stored in glaciers. Due to its large glacier coverage, such estimates are of particular interest for the Himalayan–Karakoram (HK) region. In this study, different existing methodologies are used to estimate the ice reserves: three area–volume relations, one slope-dependent volume estimation method, and two ice-thickness distribution models are applied to a recent, detailed, and complete glacier inventory of the HK region, spanning over the period 2000–2010 and revealing an ice coverage of 40 775 km2. An uncertainty and sensitivity assessment is performed to investigate the influence of the observed glacier area and important model parameters on the resulting total ice volume. Results of the two ice-thickness distribution models are validated with local ice-thickness measurements at six glaciers. The resulting ice volumes for the entire HK region range from 2955 to 4737 km3, depending on the approach. This range is lower than most previous estimates. Results from the ice thickness distribution models and the slope-dependent thickness estimations agree well with measured local ice thicknesses. However, total volume estimates from area-related relations are larger than those from other approaches. The study provides evidence on the significant effect of the selected method on results and underlines the importance of a careful and critical evaluation.

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Existing methods (area–volume relations, a slope-dependent volume estimation method, and two ice-thickness distribution models) are used to estimate the ice reserves stored in Himalayan–Karakoram glaciers. Resulting volumes range from 2955–4737km³. Results from the ice-thickness distribution models agree well with local measurements; volume estimates from area-related relations exceed the estimates from the other approaches. Evidence on the effect of the selected method on results is provided.
Existing methods (area–volume relations, a slope-dependent volume estimation method, and two...
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