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Summary of Proposal LAN1534

TitleHimalayan glaciers dynamics from TerraSAR-X archived data
Investigator Gourmelen, Noel - University of Edinburgh, School of GeoSciences
Team Member
Pr. Trouve, Emmanuel - Polytech Annecy-Chambery, LISTIC
N/A Wegmuller, Urs - GAMMA RS, N/A
Dr. Bolch, Tobias - Technische Universität Dresden, Institut für Kartographie
Pr Nicolas, Jean Marie - TELECOM ParisTech,
SummaryClimate warming over the 20th century has caused drastic changes in mountain glaciers globally, and of the Himalayan glaciers in particular. The stakes are high; mountain glaciers are the largest contributor to the increase in the mass of the world‘s oceans, and the Himalayas play a key role in the hydrology of the region, impacting on the economy, food safety and flood risk to over 1.4 billion people. Partial monitoring of the Himalayan glaciers has revealed a mixed picture; while many of theHimalayan glaciers are retreating, in some cases locally stable or advancing glaciers in this region have also been observed. Recent controversies around the future of the Himalayan glaciers, fuelled by projections reproduced in the2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, have highlighted our limited knowledge of the evolution of Himalayan glaciers, and our limited understanding of the relationship between climate change and Himalayan glaciers’ change. Our proposal is part of a larger project addressing the current observation gap over the 15,000 glaciers in the Himalayas. Through a multidisciplinary study, we propose to retrieve long-term changes in glacier flow, glacier thickness, glacier mass change and glaciers’ surface characteristics through a set of 4 work packages. These essential climate variables are key to quantify the degree of change in the Himalayan glaciers; assess the changes in the glaciers in relation to climate change; and to make predictions on the future of the Himalayan glaciers. We will benefit from a 30-year archive of Earth Observation missions, including current missions, as well as access to field sites in Nepal, India and China. We will combine a global study of Himalayan glaciers, with a local study over specificfield sites. The field sites will be surveyed at higher temporal resolution and with a wider range of observations. The local survey will serve to evaluate the quality of the retrieved global variables and address the seasonality of the observed variables. The specific objective of this proposal is usingTerraSAR-X dataset to provide information on surface motion and surface change at high spatial and temporal resolution on a selected number of glaciers. The observation period coincides with other space-based and field-based observation acquired in the frame of this project; we will therefore be able to validate our results and improve our understanding of the observed changes. We expect the proposed work to have a wide-ranging impact on climate change, hydrology, flood risk, and tectonic science and high impact publications. We have built a multidisciplinary and experienced team in the exploitation of Earth Observation datasets, glaciology and field studies. We have also developed international collaborations in order to gain access to field observations in India and China, and to Earth Observation datasets, building strong partnerships in China, India, the United Kingdom, and with Space Agencies. The current proposal will strengthen these international collaborations. The project is cost-effective; it builds upon both the expertise of the PI and Co-I in glaciology and Earth Observation data analysis, and the bulk of historic Earth Observation dataset that will serve in this study is secured through the Dragon-3 project, a joint cooperative call between the European and Chinese Space Agencies (ESA and NRSCC). In addition to ESA and NRSCC, funding is also provided through the French Centre National d’Etude Spatiale (CNES) and the Savoie region.

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