We demonstrate an application of Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) images to detect and monitor supraglacial lakes on glaciers in the Mount Everest region in Tibet (Xizang) and Nepal. ASTER offers powerful capabilities to monitor supraglacial lakes in terms of (1) surface area, growth and disappearance (spatial resolution = 15 m), (2) turbidity (15 m resolution), and (3) temperature (90 m resolution). Preliminary results show an overall similarity of supraglacial lakes on three glaciers. Lakes have widely varying turbidity as indicated by color in visible/near-infrared bands 1-3, the largest lakes being bright blue (highly turbid), cold (near 0??C) and hydrautically connected with other lakes and supraglacial streams, while small lakes are mostly dark blue (relatively clear water), warmer (>4??C), and appear hydrautically isolated. High levels of turbidity in supraglacial lakes indicate high rates of meltwater input from streams or erosion of ice cliffs, and thus are an indirect measure relating to the activity and hydraulic integration of the lake with respect to other lakes and streams in the glacier.
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ASTER measurement of supraglacial lakes in the Mount Everest region of the Himalaya