A Framework to Identify Rock Glaciers and Model Mountain Permafrost in the Jhelum Basin, Kashmir Himalaya, India

S. N. Remya, Tirthankar Ghosh, Vivek Agarwal*, Zahid Majeed, Babu Govindha Raj, Aanchal Sharma, Anil V. Kulkarni, Muneer Ahmad Mukhtar, Rakesh Mishra

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Deglaciation has led to the transformation of glaciers into rock glaciers in various mountainous regions worldwide. However, the science of permafrost and rock glaciers remains under‐researched in the Himalayan region. This study presents a detailed inventory, dynamics, and permafrost distribution map for the Jhelum basin in the Kashmir Himalaya. The Permafrost Zonation Map (PZM) is created using a Logistic Regression Model based on topographic and climatic variables. High‐resolution satellite images are used to identify rock glaciers as visual indicators. Active and relic rock glaciers are classified based on surface topography and geomorphology. Results reveal 207 rock glaciers in the Jhelum basin, covering ∼50 km2, with over 100 falling into the active category. The PZM aligns well with the global permafrost zonation index map. Slope, aspect, and elevation of rock glaciers are computed using the ASTER Digital Elevation Model. The average elevations range from 3,700 m to 4,550 m, and the average surface slope ranges from 12° to 26°, with maximum slopes from 25° to 65°. Most rock glaciers are oriented toward the south or southeast. Field investigations confirm that these rock glaciers occur in highly elevated regions with steep slopes. This study provides valuable information on the high areal abundance of permafrost in the Himalayan region and suggests increased risks of thawing permafrost due to climate warming in the future. The findings contribute to the understanding of permafrost and rock glaciers, filling knowledge gaps in the Himalayan context.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2023EA003170
JournalEarth and Space Science
Volume11
Issue number1
Early online date27 Dec 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024

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