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Spatio‐temporal analysis of glacial ice area distribution of Hunza River Basin, Karakoram region of Pakistan

Baig, Siddique Ullah, Khan, Humaira, Din, Ahmad
Hydrological processes 2018 v.32 no.10 pp. 1491-1501
altitude, basins, climate change, glaciers, meteorological data, runoff, satellites, temperature, temporal variation, uncertainty, watersheds, Himalayan region, Pakistan
There is a high degree of uncertainty about the state and fate of Pakistan's Karakoram glaciers due to data scarcity in high altitude regions. They are thought to be less vulnerable to climatic change because they behave differently as compared with eastern Himalayas. This study measures the decadal temporal changes in the glacial ice area of Karakoram's Hunza River Basin, one of the eight subbasins of Upper Indus Basin. An attempt has been made to investigate the relationship between glacial ice area changes and calculated values of precipitation, temperature and run‐off. A combination of satellite and field‐based approach is applied. Output includes maps of glacial ice hypsometries of eight glacial ice subregions of Hunza River Basin for 3 years (i.e., 1989, 2002, and 2010). The results show a decreasing trend in the glacial ice‐covered area signifying a reduction of 20.47% with the largest reduction being in the lower elevation bands. There is presently no conclusive answer as to why glacial ice in the Karakoram is acting differently from the near‐global indication of glacial ice changes. Climate data from high altitudes are needed to find answer for this anomalous behaviour.