The Nature News website reported yesterday on a massive ice avalanche that happened in Rutog, Tibet, on 17 July 2016. This ice avalanche killed 9 people and may be one the largest ever observed. The ice and rock mixture spread over 6 km from the collapse point up to the Aru Co lake shoreline.

Sentinel-2A image of the Rutog ice avalanche acquired on 21-Jul-2016 (4 days after the event). Click on the image to see at full resolution (1 pixel = 10m).
Nothing escapes from Sentinels! I used the Sentinel-2A image above to digitalize the avalanche extent and found that the avalanche covered a total area of 8.8 km², close to the value that was indicated in several news websites (10 km²). There are not many cloud-free images in this area at this time of the year, however the avalanche was still visible on 11-Aug-2016 between the clouds in a Landsat-8 image.
Landsat-8 natural color composite image (11-Aug-2016)
A closer view of the avalanche site is available here: http://english.cri.cn/12394/2016/07/20/3441s934928.htm [edit] The second episode about this avalanche is here.

2 thoughts on “Sentinel-2A captures a giant ice avalanche in Tibet

  1. This post was mentioned in the NASA's Image of the Day blog: "Massive and Mysterious Ice Fall in Tibet" (http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=88677) and in the Climate Central blog: "Scientists Are Racing to Unravel an Ice Avalanche Mystery" (http://www.climatecentral.org/news/scientists-racing-to-unravel-ice-avalanche-mystery-20678). Both articles provide a much better discussion on this exceptional glacier collapse. The image was also featured in the Weather Network Website (https://www.theweathernetwork.com/news/articles/news-massive-ice-slide-seen-from-space/72136/), the Weather Channel (https://weather.com/science/environment/news/ice-sheet-disappears-tibet), etc.The image shown above and more are publicly available and citable here: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.154397

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