The presence and influence of glacier surging around the Geladandong ice caps, North East Tibetan Plateau

Owen King, Atanu Bhattacharya, Tobias Bolch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Many glaciers and ice caps on the Tibetan Plateau have retreated and lost mass in recent years in response to temperature increases, providing clear evidence of the impact of climate change on the region. There is increasing evidence that many of the glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau have also shown periodically dynamic behaviour in the form of glacier surging and some even catastrophic collapse events. In this study, we examine the prevalence of glacier surging at the Geladandong ice caps, North East Tibetan Plateau, to better understand the role of surge events in the evolution of glacier mass loss budgets. Using glacier surface elevation change data over the period 1969–2018 and glacier surface velocity data from the ITS_LIVE dataset, we find that 19 outlet glaciers of the ice caps are of surge-type. Our multi-temporal measurements of glacier mass balance show that surge-type glacier mass budgets vary depending on the portion of the surge-cycle captured by geodetic data. At the regional level, pre- and post-surge glacier mass loss variability does not bias regional mass budget estimates, but enhanced, or suppressed, mass loss estimates are likely when small groups of glaciers are examined. Our results emphasise the importance of accurate surge-type glacier inventories and the need to maximise geodetic data coverage over glacierised regions known to contain surge-type glaciers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-312
Number of pages14
JournalAdvances in Climate Change Research
Issue number3
Early online date15 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • Glacier surge
  • Remote sensing
  • Corona KH-4
  • Glacier mass balance
  • Glacier velocity


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