Air, Snow, and Glacier

The mountains of the Hindu Kush Himalayas hold more of the earth’s snow and ice than anywhere beyond the poles. Sometimes called The Third Pole, the region stores 10 percent of all freshwater non-polar ice and snow, including 60,000 square kilometers of glaciers and .76 square kilometers of snow cover. It’s a key part of the cryosphere, the scientific term for regions where water is found in solid form as snow, ice, glaciers or within frozen ground called permafrost. 

The cryosphere influences the world’s climate and is influenced by it in turn, responding to the dynamics of the lower atmosphere, such as precipitation patterns and the presence in the air of black carbon and other pollutants.  

Relevant Publications

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Datasets

The 500 m MODIS imagery showing a daily snow cover of the HKH region. The image is generated using MODIS (NASA) algorithms to MODIS data received on ICIMOD's receiving station. 
Digital polygon data of Status of Glaciers in Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) Region during 2005 ± 3 (2002-2008) years. This dataset is created using Landsat ETM+ imageries of respective years. The glacier outlines was derived semi-automatically using object-based image classification (OBIC ) method separately for clean ice and debris cover and further editing and validation was done carefully by draping over the high resolution images from Google Earth.



Science applications

The statistics on glaciers can be viewd for entire HKH region or at disaggregatged basin and sub-basin levels. The glacier number, glacier area and estimated ice reserves can be viewed as charts for user-specified cut-off elevation, cut-off slope and aspect.

The statistics on glaciers can be viewed for the whole country or at disaggregated basin and sub-basin levels. The distribution of glaciers according to ice reserve and glacier area, elevation range, and hypsograph are presented as charts and tables through an interactive interface.

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