August 25, 2016

Kronotsky Peninsula, Kamchatka Glacier Fragmentation/Retreat

Posted by Mauri Pelto

kamtchatka ge

The Kronotsky Peninsula is on the east coast of Kamchatka and has an small concentration of alpine glaciers.  A recent paper by Lynch et al (2016) indicates a significant recession during the start of the 21st century in Kamchatka.  They note a 24% loss in area, leading to fragmentation and an increase in the number of ice masses that could be considered glaciers.  Lynch et al (2016)  further note that the primary climate change has been a recent significant rise in summer temperature.  It is interesting how few and small the glaciers are in Kamchatka versus similar latitudes of Alaska.

kronotsky compare

The red arrows indicate the 2000 terminus position.  Purple arrows indicate areas of bedrock expansion within the 2000 glacier region.  Google Earth image is same 2013 image. 

A comparison of 2000 and 2015 Landsat images indicates the retreat of several glaciers and the expansion of bedrock glaciers within the previous accumulation zone areas. The snowcovered area in Sept. of 2000 is 35%, in Sept. 2015 the snowcovered area is 15%.  Summer temperature anomalies for Kamchatka have been high in June and July of 2016 (NOAA, 2016).  The result is that in August, 2016 despite the cloud cover it is evident that snowcover is less than 10% with time left in the melt season. September is one of the least cloudy months and if better imagery becomes available I will update this image here. The elevation of the glaciers is 2400-3700 m, relatively high. The termini of all three glaciers have retreated 200-400 m, which given the short time span and small size of the glaciers is significant. The lack of retained snowcover in recent years indicates that these glaciers lack a persistent accumulation zone and cannot survive (Pelto, 2010). A closeup of the terminus of the glaciers indicate all have low slopes, limited crevassing, and are poised more further retreat.  Of the three termini the southern one indicates a recsssional moraine set (R). The western glacier concentric crevasses that indicate subsidence of terminus area (C).  The northern glacier has significant supraglacial stream channels that took multiple years to develop, indicative of limited development (B).

kamchatka 2016

2016 Landsat image of Krontosky Peninsula Glaciers

Western Glacier terminus

Western Glacier terminus
Picture 1 of 3