On the Kamchatka Peninsula, a number of glaciers are covered by thick volcanic debris, which makes their margins difficult to delineate from satellite imagery. Fortunately, high resolution, multi-temporal digital surface models (DSMs) covering the entire peninsula have recently become freely available (i.e., ArcticDEM). We use these DSMs to analyse the dimensions and dynamics of debris-covered glaciers in the northern Kluchevskoy Volcanic Group, central Kamchatka. This approach demonstrates that between 2012 and 2016, some of the region’s glaciers advanced, despite regional and local climate warming. These glacial advances are part of a long-term trend and presumed to reflect the role of extensive supraglacial debris in limiting ice ablation, though there is also evidence for local ice melt due to supraglacial lava/debris flows. Glacier surface velocities during the period 2012–2015 were typically 5–140 m yr-1. Velocities for the major outlets of the region’s central icefield were typically higher than for other extensively debris-covered glaciers globally, likely reflecting the influence of ice supply from the high altitude Ushkovsky caldera. In all, we find ArcticDEM useful for analysing debris-covered glaciers in Kamchatka, providing important information on flow dynamics and terminus change that is difficult to derive from satellite imagery.
- volcanic activity