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 JWARP  Vol.10 No.6 , June 2018
Impacts of Modern Glacier Changes on Surface Water Resources in Western and Northern Mongolia
Abstract: Water trapped in glaciers and in lakes impounded by landforms created by glaciers (glacial lakes) are an important component of the hydrology and water resources in high mountain areas of Central Asia. Changes in modern glaciers and glacial lakes are an important component of the hydrology of watersheds in the Mongolian Altai and Khuvsgul Mountain Ranges, western and northern Mongolia, respectively. Here we focus on Mt. Ikh Turgen and Mt. Munkh Saridag, isolated mountains of the Mongolian Altai and Khuvsgul Mountain Ranges, respectively. We use remote sensing to track changes in modern glaciers over time with mapping at scales of 1:200,000 for Mt. Ikh Turgen and 1:90,000 for Mt. Munkh Saridag based on imagery from Google Earth, 30 m resolution Aster Digital Elevation Model (DEM) and 30 m resolution Landsat 5 TM. Mt. Ikh Turgen lost 45.6% of its total glacier area between 1970 (41.4 km2) and 2011 (18.9 km2) and the Equilibrium Line Altitude (ELA) of the glaciers increased in elevation by 98 m and 144 m on north and south aspects, respectively. Mt. Munkh Saridag lost 57.3% of its total glacier area between 1970 (901 m2) and 2007 (381 m2) and the local ELA rose by 47 m and 80 m on north and south aspects, respectively. These mountains are located at similar latitudes, and so the greater percentage loss of glacier area in Mt. Munkh Saridag and faster changes in ELAs in Mt. Ikh Turgen may reflect variations in elevation and aspect, duration of solar radiation, and vulnerability to solar radiation, as well as variations in glacier scale. This study demonstrates the importance of spatial analyses of modern glaciers in understanding the context of hydrological changes within which any sustainable water resource management plan must be situated.
Cite this paper: Orkhonselenge, A. , Harbor, J. (2018) Impacts of Modern Glacier Changes on Surface Water Resources in Western and Northern Mongolia. Journal of Water Resource and Protection, 10, 559-576. doi: 10.4236/jwarp.2018.106031.
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