Science and Exploration

Earth from Space: Himalayan Glaciers As Seen From Orbit

By Keith Cowing
Status Report
March 14, 2014
Filed under , , , , ,
Earth from Space: Himalayan Glaciers As Seen From Orbit
Himalayan Glaciers

This satellite image shows an area of the Himalaya mountain range in northeastern Nepal, about 8 km south of Mount Everest.
The Himalayas are the world’s highest mountain range and home to the world’s highest peak, Mt Everest (about 8850 m), as well as dozens of other peaks over 7000 m high. These high peaks are covered permanently with snow.

The range is also home to thousands of glaciers, including the Imja glacier in the upper-central part of this image. Studies have shown an increase in the rate of glacial retreat for Imja and many other glaciers in the region – and in the world.

Glaciers are the largest reservoirs of freshwater on our planet, and their melting or growing is one of the best indicators of climate change. Satellite radar data can help monitor changes in glacier mass and, subsequently, their contribution to rising sea levels.

Glacial runoff from the Himalayas has a direct effect on the nearby rivers such as the Indus and Ganges, and is very important for lower-lying regions where there is a very large human population.
At the foot of the Imja glacier is the Imja lake, pictured in the upper-left. Melt-water makes this one of the fastest growing lakes in the Himalayas, and a threat to downstream communities.

Larger image

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.