Supraglacial debris cover assessment in the Caucasus Mountains, 1986-2000-2014
Earth System Dynamics Discussions
Surpaglacial debris cover plays an increasingly important role impacting on glacier ablation, while there have been limited recent studies for the assessment of debris covered glaciers in the Greater Caucasus mountains. We selected 559 glaciers according to the sections and macroslopes in the Greater Caucasus main watershed range and the Elbrus massif to assess supraglacial debris cover (SDC) for the years 1986, 2000 and 2014. Landsat (Landsat 5 TM, Landsat 7 ETM+, Landsat 8 OLI) and SPOT
... OLI) and SPOT satellite imagery were analysed to generate glacier outlines using manual and semi-automated methods, along with slope information from a Digital Elevation Model. The study shows there is greater SDC area on the northern than the southern macroslope, and more in the eastern section than the western and central. In 1986-2000-2014, the SDC area increased from 6.4&thinsp;%-8.2&thinsp;%-19.4&thinsp;% on the northern macroslope (apart from the eastern Greater Caucasus section), while on the southern macroslope, SDC increased from 4.0&thinsp;%-4.9&thinsp;%-9.2&thinsp;%. Overall, debris covered glacier numbers increased from 122-143-172 (1986-2000-2014) for 559 selected glaciers. Despite the total glacier area decrease, the SDC glacier area and numbers increased as a function of slope inclination, aspect, glacier morphological type, Little Ice Age (LIA) moraines, rock structure and elevation. The datasets are available for public download at <a href="https://doi.pangaea.de/10.1594/PANGAEA.880147">https://doi.pangaea.de/10.1594/PANGAEA.880147</a>.