Remote-sensing assessment of glacier fluctuations in the Hindu Raj, Pakistan

Mehmet A. Sarikaya, Michael P. Bishop, John F. Shroder, Ghazanfar Ali

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20 Citations (Scopus)


Space-based assessments of glaciers across the Himalayas indicate that there is a spatial variation in glacier fluctuations due to variations in local topography, regional climate, and ice-flow dynamics. Unfortunately, limited information is available on glacier fluctuations in northern Pakistan. In this work, we quantify the glacier terminus variations in the Hindu Raj region of Pakistan, where we used Landsat and Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) time-series data for 1972, 1989, 1999, and 2007. Eighty-five mountain glaciers of various sizes, orientations, and altitudes were sampled. Our results show that most of the glaciers (70.6%) retreated over the last four decades, although some glaciers advanced (17.6%) or exhibited no detectable change in terminus position (11.8%). Larger glaciers with lower terminus altitudes exhibited greater retreat distances than smaller high-altitude glaciers. Long-term climate data analysis reveals that the recession of glaciers appears to be associated with the rising of summer temperatures in the Hindu Raj. Our results support a spatial trend of an increase in shrinking glaciers towards the western portion of northern Pakistan, with a greater frequency of advancing glaciers towards the east.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3968-3985
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Remote Sensing
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


We thank Jeffrey A. Olsenholler (University of Nebraska–Omaha) for his help during data collection and analyses of glaciers. This work was funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA Grant NNG04GL84G) and by the Agency for International Development under the Pakistan– US Science and Technology Cooperative Programme.

FundersFunder number
Agency for International Development
National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationNNG04GL84G


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