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Geosciences 2017, 7(4), 117; doi:10.3390/geosciences7040117

Present Glaciers and Their Dynamics in the Arid Parts of the Altai Mountains

1
Institute of Earth Science, Saint-Petersburg State University, Universitetskaya nab. 7/9, 199034 Saint-Petersburg, Russia
2
Department of Natural Sciences and Geography, Pushkin Leningrad State University, 10 Peterburgskoe shosse, 196605 St Petersburg (Pushkin), Russia
3
Institute of Limnology RAS, Saint Petersburg, Sevastyanov st. 9, 196105 St Petersburg, Russia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 13 October 2017 / Revised: 10 November 2017 / Accepted: 13 November 2017 / Published: 17 November 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cryosphere)
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Abstract

This research is based on multiyear in-situ observations, analysis of satellite and aerial imagery, meteorological data, and mass balance index calculations. Presently, 659 glaciers cover a total area of 322.1 km2. We identified four favorable, two neutral, and five unfavorable longer intervals of glacier development since 1940. A decelerating of glacial retreat took place in the 1960s and in the late 1980s/early 1990s. The strong decline in glacial mass between 1995 and 2009 resulted in a fast reduction of the glacial area (0.9% year−1 on the northern slope of Tavan Bogd, 1.5% year−1 at Mongun-Taiga), mostly due to the degradation of small glaciers; after 2009, the glacial loss slowed down. Large valley glaciers behaved asynchronously until recently, when their retreat accelerated rapidly reaching in some cases over 40 m∙year−1. Degradation of the accumulation zone and separation of the debris-covered parts of the glaciers are characteristic for the glacial retreat in the region of research. The time of reaction of the fronts of four valley glaciers of Mongun-Taiga and the northern slope of Tavan Bogd on climatic fluctuations is estimated between 11 and 20 years. Over the next decade, high rates of glacial degradation are expected.
Keywords: in-situ observations; remote sensing; Russian and Mongolian Altai; glacial response to climate change in-situ observations; remote sensing; Russian and Mongolian Altai; glacial response to climate change
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Ganyushkin, D.A.; Chistyakov, K.V.; Volkov, I.V.; Bantcev, D.V.; Kunaeva, E.P.; Terekhov, A.V. Present Glaciers and Their Dynamics in the Arid Parts of the Altai Mountains. Geosciences 2017, 7, 117.

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