Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research

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Vol. 49, No. 1, 2017

pp. 133-146

Comparison of glacier mass balance data in the Tien Shan and Pamir, Central Asia

Sabine Baumann

Glacier coverage and behavior are heterogeneous across Tien Shan and Pamir due to a climate gradient from west to east. Regional glacier mass balance data have previously been calculated using GRACE and hydrological models with differing results. In this study, in situ mass balance data of glaciers in the Tien Shan and Pamir, measured by the glaciological method between 2004 and 2012, are spatially extrapolated to the total glacier area by arithmetic averaging using (1) unfiltered balance data, and (2) a smoothing filter to the data in a way similar to that done for GRACE data. GRACE and the in situ data are the only methods that measure mass variations directly. A comparison of the extrapolated unfiltered and filtered in situ data is made with the difference between GRACE and the total water storage of the hydrological model Water Global Assessment and Prognosis Global Hydrology Model that represents glacier mass balance. The annual comparison between the extrapolated in situ and GRACE-related data does not fit very well, but the comparison of mass change rates shows quite good agreement. In comparison with GRACE-related results from the literature, the extrapolation of the unfiltered in situ glacier mass data performs best, especially in the Tien Shan.