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Glacier shrinkage and climatic change in the Russian Altai from the mid-20th century: An assessment using remote sensing and PRECIS regional climate model

By Maria Shahgedanova, G Nosenko, T Khromova and A Muraveyev


This paper examines changes in the surface area of glaciers in the North and South Chuya Ridges, Altai Mountains in 1952-2004 and their links with regional climatic variations. The glacier surface areas for 2004 were derived from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) imagery. Data from the World Glacier Inventory (WGI)dating to 1952 and aerial photographs from 1952 were used to estimate the changes. 256 glaciers with a combined area of 253±5.1 km2 have been identified in the region in 2004. Estimation of changes in extent of 126 glaciers with the individual areas not less than 0.5 km2 in 1952 revealed a 19.7±5.8% reduction. The observed glacier retreat is primarily driven by an increase in summer temperatures since the 1980s when air temperatures were increasing at a rate of 0.10 - 0.13oC a-1\ud at the glacier tongue elevation. The regional climate projections for A2 and B2 CO2 emission scenarios developed using PRECIS regional climate model indicate that summer temperatures will increase in the Altai in 2071-2100 by 6-7oC and 3-5oC respectively in comparison with 1961-1990 while annual precipitation will increase by 15% and 5%. The length of the ablation season will extend from June-August to the late April – early October. The projected increases in precipitation will not compensate for the projected warming and glaciers will continue to retreat in the 21st century under both B2 and A2 scenarios.\u

Topics: 551
Publisher: American Geophysical Union
Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:centaur.reading.ac.uk:4459
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