Surge-type glaciers are characterised by relatively short phases of enhanced ice transport and mass redistribution after a comparatively long quiescent phase when the glacier is virtually inactive. This unstable behaviour makes it difficult to assess the influence of climate change on those glaciers. We describe the evolution of the most recent surge of Bivachny Glacier in the Pamir Mountains, Tajikistan between 2011 and 2015 with respect to changes in its topography and dynamics. For the relevant time span, nine digital elevation models were derived from TanDEM-X data; optical satellite data (Landsat 5, 7 and 8, EO-1) as well as synthetic aperture radar data (TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X) were used to analyse ice flow velocities. The comparison of the topography at the beginning of the surge with the one observed by the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission in 2000 revealed a thickening in the upper part of the ablation area of the glacier and a thinning further down the glacier as is typically observed during the quiescent phase. During the active phase, a surge bulge measuring up to around 80 m developed and travelled downstream for a distance of 13 km with a mean velocity of 4400 m year−1
. Ice flow velocities increased from below 90 m year−1
duringthe quiescent phase in 2000 to up to 3400 m year−1
in spring 2014. After reaching the confluence with Fedchenko Glacier, the surge slowed down until it completely terminated in 2015. The observed seasonality of the glacier velocities with a regular speed-up during the onset of the melt period suggests a hydrological control of the surge related to the effectiveness of the subglacial drainage system.
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