Earth’s Cryosphere, 2023, Vol. XXVII, No. 1, p. 39-50.



A.Kh. Adzhiev1, M.Yu. Bekkiev1, M.D. Dokukin1,*, R.Kh. Kalov1, E.A. Savernyuk2, S.I. Shagin3

1 High-Mountain Geophysical Institute, prosp. Lenina 2, Nalchik, 360030 Russia
2 Lomonosov Moscow State University, Faculty of Geography, Leninskie Gory 1, Moscow, 119991 Russia
3 Berbekov Kabardino-Balkarian State University, Department of Scientific Research and Innovation, Tolstogo St. 175a, Nalchik, 360004 Russia
*Corresponding author; e-mail:

High rates of degradation of the Bolshoy Azau Glacier on Elbrus make it necessary to assess the development of lakes on the ice-free land and on the glacier itself. For this purpose, aerospace data for the period of 1957–2021, as well as information from visual observations, Internet sources, and tourist photos were analyzed. The existence of 15 lakes with an area of 140–20 250 m2 on the Bolshoy Azau Glacier and the adjacent territory was recorded at various times. The long-term existence of the lake in contact with the glacier on the Echo of the War mountain passage covering with an area of up to 4500 m2 was revealed for the period of 1971–2009. The maximum area (20 250 m2) was detected on a satellite image from June 25, 2009 for a lake on the dead ice part of the median moraine between left and right ice streams of the Bolshoy Azau Glacier. In the hollows on the glacier surface, up to three lakes with a maximum total area of 7860 m2 were observed in different times. Lakes on the Bolshoy Azau Glacier appeared mainly during the snow cover melting, while masses of drifted snow served as dams in the drainage area of hollows. These lakes disappeared after melting of drifted snow dams and/or in the course of drainage through subglacial and underground runoff channels.

Keywords: glacier, satellite images, glacial lake, drainage channel, snow cover, lake basin

Recommended citation: Adzhiev A.H., Bekkiev M.Yu., Dokukin M.D., Kalov R.Kh., Savernyuk E.A., Shagin S.I., 2023. Dynamics of Lakes of the Bolshoy Azau Glacier on Elbrus. Earth’s Cryosphere XXVII (1), 39–50.