Glacier in the Himalayas

Stunning satellite image of a Chinese glacier and its lake.

Stunning satellite image of a Chinese glacier and its lake.

Besides the world’s tallest peaks, the Himalayan Mountain Range holds thousands of glaciers.

In southern China, just north of the border with Nepal, one unnamed Himalayan glacier flows from southwest to northeast, creeping down a valley to terminate in a glacial lake.

On December 25, 2009, the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite captured this natural-colour image of the glacier.

Mountains on either side of the glacier cast long shadows to the north. From a bowl-shaped cirque, the glacier flows downhill. Where the ice passes over especially steep terrain, ripple marks on the glacier surface indicate the icefall. Northeast of the icefall, the glacier’s surface is mostly smooth for several kilometres until a network of crevasses marks the surface.

At the end of the glacier’s deeply crevassed snout sits a glacial lake, coated with ice in this wintertime picture. Just as nearby mountains cast shadows to the north, the crevassed glacier casts a shadow onto the lake’s icy surface. This glacial lake is bound by the glacier snout on one end, and a moraine—a mound formed by the accumulation of sediments and rocks moved by the glacier—on the other.

NASA Earth Observatory image created by Jesse Allen, using EO-1 ALI data provided courtesy of the NASA EO-1 team. Text adapted from information issued by Michon Scott based on image interpretation by Bruce Raup, National Snow and Ice Data Centre.

Filed Under: Earth from Space

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