Estimating the volume of glaciers in the Himalayan-Karakoram region using different methods

H. Frey*, H. Machguth, M. Huss, C. Huggel, S. Bajracharya, T. Bolch, A. Kulkarni, A. Linsbauer, N. Salzmann, M. Stoffel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ice volume estimates are crucial for assessing water reserves stored in glaciers. Due to its large glacier coverage, such estimates are of particular interest for the Himalayan-Karakoram (HK) region. In this study, different existing methodologies are used to estimate the ice reserves: three area-volume relations, one slope-dependent volume estimation method, and two ice-thickness distribution models are applied to a recent, detailed, and complete glacier inventory of the HK region, spanning over the period 2000-2010 and revealing an ice coverage of 40 775 km2. An uncertainty and sensitivity assessment is performed to investigate the influence of the observed glacier area and important model parameters on the resulting total ice volume. Results of the two ice-thickness distribution models are validated with local ice-thickness measurements at six glaciers. The resulting ice volumes for the entire HK region range from 2955 to 4737 km3, depending on the approach. This range is lower than most previous estimates. Results from the ice thickness distribution models and the slope-dependent thickness estimations agree well with measured local ice thicknesses. However, total volume estimates from area-related relations are larger than those from other approaches. The study provides evidence on the significant effect of the selected method on results and underlines the importance of a careful and critical evaluation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2313-2333
Number of pages21
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


Dive into the research topics of 'Estimating the volume of glaciers in the Himalayan-Karakoram region using different methods'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this