June 27, 2017
Mensu Glacier, Russia in comparison of 1994 and 2016 Landsat images. Red arrow is the 1994 terminus, yellow arrow 2016 terminus, purple arrow a tributary and purple dots the snowline.
Mensu Glacier (Lednik Mensu) drains northeast from Gora Belukha in the Russian Altai. The glacier drains into the Ob River and then the Arctic Ocean. This glacier has not been the focus of detailed research to date. Khromova et al (2014) report that at the end of the century the glacier degradation in Russian mountain ranges strengthened including glacier area loss of 13% in the Tien Shan, 19% in the Altai and 22.3% in the Polar Urals. The icecap draining west from Gora Belukha was cored to look at longer term climate records (Fujita et al 2004). The core at 4500 m is high enough so that significant melt events affecting the record were rare. Shahgedanova et al (2010) noted that the retreat has largely been driven by summer warming.
In 1994 the glacier terminates at the red arrow at 2150 m. The glacier has an icefall from 3200 m to 2700 m that generates annual ogives, note Google Earth image below. The snowline in the 1994 Landsat image averages 3000 m. There is a tributary joining the main glacier at the purple arrow. A neighboring glacier terminates in a proglacial lake at the orange arrow. By 2001 the glacier has retreated and the snowline is at 3100 m. By 2016 the glacier terminates at 2200 m and has retreated 600 m to the yellow arrow. The tributary at the purple arrow has separated from the main glacier. This illustrates substantial glacier thinning 6 km above the terminus. The glacier at the orange arrow no longer reaches the proglacial lake. In August 2016 below the snowline is at 3100 m in September 2016 the snowline has descended to 2800 m. The lowest 800 m of the glacier has few crevasses, appears stagnant and will be lost to retreat.
Retreat is similar to the nearby Potanin Glacier, Mongolia.
Mensu Glacier, Russia in comparison of 2001 and 2016 Landsat images. Red arrow is the 1994 terminus, yellow arrow 2016 terminus, purple arrow a tributary and purple dots the snowline.
Google Earth image indicating the snowline at the top of the icefall and the ogives beginning at the bottom near the orange arrow.
Terminus of Mensu Glacier in 2013 note lack of crevassing.