The January 2018 to September 2019 surge of Shisper Glacier, Pakistan, detected from remote sensing observations

Irfan Rashid, Ulfat Majeed, Azra Jan, Neil Glasser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (SciVal)
251 Downloads (Pure)


This study analysed the actively surging Shisper Glacier in the Karakoram region of Pakistan using earth observation data from Landsat 8 OLI and Planet images. Changes in the surface glacier velocity, supraglacial moraines and debris cover were assessed using Landsat 8 data at monthly time-steps from January 2018 to May 2019. High resolution data from Planet Labs was used to precisely detect the snout advance and ice-dammed lake expansion. Downstream cross-section profiles of the valley were generated using a moderate resolution digital elevation model to assess the inundation in the event of rapid ice-dammed lake drainage. Correlation Image Analysis Software working on the principle of normalized cross-correlation was used to generate time series monthly surface velocity profiles for Shisper Glacier. Manual digitization at 1:30000 scale was used to delineate supraglacial moraines and supraglacial debris cover. The glacier surface velocity profiles indicate that the ablation zone of the glacier continues to be in an active surge phase resulting in advance of the snout and expansion of the ice-dammed lake. Surface glacier velocities are as high as 48 m d−1. Between 18 December 2018 and 8 May 2019, the glacier snout advanced at ~6 m d−1 with a total overall advance of 860 m. The lake formed due to damming of an outflow stream from Mochowar Glacier expanded to its maximum area (29.69 ha) in May 2019 before drainage started on 23 June 2019. Our estimates indicate that the peak discharge in case of rapid drainage could vary between 5033 m3 s−1 and 6167 m3 s−1 and potentially affect infrastructure downstream
Original languageEnglish
Article number106957
Early online date27 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2020


  • Shisper Glacier
  • glacier surge
  • Karakoram
  • glacier velocity
  • remote sensing
  • ice-dammed lake
  • GLOF hazard
  • Glacier surge
  • Glacier velocity
  • Remote sensing
  • Ice-dammed lake


Dive into the research topics of 'The January 2018 to September 2019 surge of Shisper Glacier, Pakistan, detected from remote sensing observations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this