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: [edit] The second episode about this avalanche is here.

3 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" ( and in the Climate Central blog: "Scientists Are Racing to Unravel an Ice Avalanche Mystery" ( Both articles provide a much better discussion on this exceptional glacier collapse. The image was also featured in the Weather Network Website (, the Weather Channel (, etc.The image shown above and more are publicly available and citable here:

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