China's Karakorum Glaciers

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Author: Lanzhou Institute of Glaciology and Geocryology
Language: English
ISBN/ISSN: 703003137
Published on: 1992-06

The Karakorum Range is one of the highest mountains in the world. The average height of the whole range is over 6000 m. Among all the high peaks, four are higher than 8000 m. The highest peak in the range, Mt. Qogir (meaning the King of the Mountains; also called K2), is 8611 m above sea level. The other three peaks are named Gasherbrum I (8068 m), Broad (8047 m) and Gasherbrum II (8035 m) respectively. In addition to these peaks, there are 15 peaks whose heights are over 7500 m.

The Karakorum Range is also regarded as the kingdom of the mountain glaciers. About 28-37% of its mountain area is covered by glaciers. In the middle and low latitude mountain ranges of the world, there are 8 glaciers which are more than 50km long. Among these 8 glaciers, 6 have been developed in the Karakorum Range. Siachen Glacier (also called Rose Glacier) on the south slope of the Karakorum Range has a total area of about 1180 km2. It is the largest mountain glacier in the world.

Insukati Glacier on the north slope along the main ridge of the Karakorum Range is 41.5km long, covering an area of 329 km2.It is the largest glacier in China.

The glaciers in the Karakorum Range are typical of the high mountain glaciers in the world's middle and low latitude areas. The glaciers in the Karakorum Range are also different from the glaciers in some other mountain areas in China: the glacier movement is faster; the changes in the glacier advancing and retreating are quick and frequent; the glacier temperature distribution is of the complex type----cold at accumulation area and temperate at ablation area; there exists a high level mass balance; the geologic and geomorphologic action of glaciers is strong; and there exist the grand and fantastic ice pinnacle forests which offer a spectacle seldom seen in other glacial areas of the world.
The Karakorum Range is situated in the drought area of the Middle Asia Inland. Its rich water resources provided by melted snow and ice have given birth to rivers and life, and brought green to barren land. Therefore this area has become one of special areas of irrigated agriculture in the world.

However in its north and south slopes, there exist various kinds of glacial calamities. These unfavourable factors greatly affect the economic construction in the mountain areas, causing natural disasters in various degrees. What can actually cause natural disasters are, for example, glacial lake outburst floods, glacial debris flows, changes in meltwater courses and changes in glacier advances and retreats.

This album is one of the products of the collective work of the scientific expedition to the glacial floods in the Yarkant River valley in 1985-1987. This expedition consisted of 70 scientists. This investigation was the first of its kind in terms of the length of time, the number of people involved and the scope of observation.

1. Preface
2. The Lofty and Magnificent Kingdom of the mountain Glaciers
3. Beautiful Glacier Karst Phenomena
4. Secret of Glacier Lake Outburst Floods
5. The Geologic and Geomorphologic Functions of Glaciers
6. Curious Mountain Landscape

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