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Inventory, motion and acceleration of rock glaciers in Ile Alatau and Kungöy Ala-Too, northern Tien Shan, since the 1950s

Authors: Kääb, Andreas; Strozzi, Tazio; Bolch, Tobias; Caduff, Rafael; Trefall, Håkon; Stoffel, Markus; Kokarev, Alexander;

Inventory, motion and acceleration of rock glaciers in Ile Alatau and Kungöy Ala-Too, northern Tien Shan, since the 1950s

Abstract

Spatio-temporal patterns of rock glacier creep have rarely been studied outside the densely populated European Alps. This study investigates the spatial and temporal variability of rock glacier motion in the Ile Alatau and Kungöy Ala-Too mountain ranges, northern Tien Shan. Over the study region of more than 3000 km2, an inventory of slope movements is constructed using a large number of radar interferograms and high-resolution optical imagery. The inventory includes more than 900 landforms, of which around 550 are interpreted as rock glaciers. Out of the active rock glaciers, 45 are characterised by a rate of motion exceeding 1 m/a. From these fast rock glaciers we select six and study them in more detail (Gorodetzky, Morenny, Archaly, Ordzhonikidze, Karakoram and Kugalan Tash rock glaciers) using offset tracking between airphotos, and historical and modern very high resolution optical satellite data. Most of them show an overall increase of decadal surface velocities from the 1950s onwards with speeds being roughly two to three times higher in recent years compared to the 1950s and 1960s. This development indicates a possible significant increase in sediment and ice fluxes through rock glaciers and implies that – when compared to glacier shrinkage – periglacial sediment transport in the region seems to gain importance relative to glacial sediment transport. Those rock glacier fronts reaching the valley floors show a strongly compressive flow regime, and changes in speeds further upstream affect them only in a damped way. The only rock glacier investigated in detail that does not exhibit an overall increase in speed since the 1950s is Gorodetsky where glacier retreat and dead-ice degradation seem to have decoupled the rock glacier from its supply by glacial sediments and ice.

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  • citations
    This is an alternative to the "Influence" indicator, which also reflects the overall/total impact of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network (diachronically).
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    This indicator reflects the "current" impact/attention (the "hype") of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network.
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    This indicator reflects the overall/total impact of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network (diachronically).
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    This indicator reflects the initial momentum of an article directly after its publication, based on the underlying citation network.
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citations
This is an alternative to the "Influence" indicator, which also reflects the overall/total impact of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network (diachronically).
BIP!Citations provided by BIP!
popularity
This indicator reflects the "current" impact/attention (the "hype") of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network.
BIP!Popularity provided by BIP!
influence
This indicator reflects the overall/total impact of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network (diachronically).
BIP!Influence provided by BIP!
impulse
This indicator reflects the initial momentum of an article directly after its publication, based on the underlying citation network.
BIP!Impulse provided by BIP!
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