Annual 30 m dataset for glacial lakes in High Mountain Asia from 2008 to 2017


Atmospheric warming is intensifying glacier melting and glacial-lake development in High Mountain Asia (HMA), and this could increase glacial-lake outburst flood (GLOF) hazards and impact water resources and hydroelectric-power management. There is therefore a pressing need to obtain comprehensive knowledge of the distribution and area of glacial lakes and also to quantify the variability in their sizes and types at high resolution in HMA. In this work, we developed an HMA glacial-lake inventory (Hi-MAG) database to characterize the annual coverage of glacial lakes from 2008 to 2017 at 30 m resolution using Landsat satellite imagery. Our data show that glacial lakes exhibited a total area increase of 90.14 kmtextlessspan class="inline-formula"textgreater$^textrm2$textless/spantextgreater in the period 2008–2017, a textlessspan class="inline-formula"textgreater+6.90textless/spantextgreater % change relative to 2008 (textlessspan class="inline-formula"textgreater1305.59±213.99textless/spantextgreater kmtextlessspan class="inline-formula"textgreater$^textrm2$textless/spantextgreater). The annual increases in the number and area of lakes were 306 and 12 kmtextlessspan class="inline-formula"textgreater$^textrm2$textless/spantextgreater, respectively, and the greatest increase in the number of lakes occurred at 5400 m elevation, which increased by 249. Proglacial-lake-dominated areas, such as the Nyainqêntanglha and central Himalaya, where more than half of the glacial-lake area (summed over a 1textlessspan class="inline-formula"textgreater$^textrm∘$textless/spantextgreater textlessspan class="inline-formula"textgreater×textless/spantextgreater 1textlessspan class="inline-formula"textgreater$^textrm∘$textless/spantextgreater grid) consisted of proglacial lakes, showed obvious lake-area expansion. Conversely, some regions of eastern Tibetan mountains and Hengduan Shan, where unconnected glacial lakes occupied over half of the total lake area in each grid, exhibited stability or a slight reduction in lake area. Our results demonstrate that proglacial lakes are a main contributor to recent lake evolution in HMA, accounting for 62.87 % (56.67 kmtextlessspan class="inline-formula"textgreater$^textrm2$textless/spantextgreater) of the total area increase. Proglacial lakes in the Himalaya ranges alone accounted for 36.27 % (32.70 kmtextlessspan class="inline-formula"textgreater$^textrm2$textless/spantextgreater) of the total area increase. Regional geographic variability in debris cover, together with trends in warming and precipitation over the past few decades, largely explains the current distribution of supraglacial- and proglacial-lake area across HMA. The Hi-MAG database is available at textlessa href=""textgreater (Chen et al., 2020), and it can be used for studies of the complex interactions between glaciers, climate and glacial lakes, studies of GLOFs, and water resources.

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