Accelerated lake expansion on the Tibetan Plateau in the 2000s: Induced by glacial melting or other processes?
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AbstractAlpine lakes on the Tibetan Plateau are minimally disturbed by human activities and are sensitive indicators of climate variability. Accelerated lake expansion in the 2000s has been confirmed by both dramatic lake-area increases (for 312 lakes larger than 10 km(2)) derived from optical images, and rapid water-level rises (for 117 lakes with water-level data) measured by satellite altimetry. However, the underlying climate causes remain unclear. This paper analyzes the relationship between the water-level changes of lakes on the plateau and the potential driving factors, such as the glacier meltwater supply and a dependency on precipitation and runoff over the whole plateau and in each zone. The results show that the rates of change of non-glacier-fed lakes in the 2000s were as high as those of glacier-fed lakes across the whole plateau and the lake-level changes were closely associated with the lake supply coefficients (the basin/lake area ratio). The lake variations agreed well with the spatial pattern of precipitation changes. However, in different zones, especially at around 33 degrees N north of the plateau, glacier-fed lakes did exhibit faster lake level increases than no-glacier-fed lakes, indicating that the presence of a glacier meltwater supply augmented the precipitation-driven lake expansions in these areas. Despite the absence of quantitative modeling due to limited data availability, this study provides qualitative support that the lake expansions on the Tibetan Plateau in the 2000s have been driven primarily by changes in precipitation and evapotranspiration and not solely by the effect of glacier wastage.
All Author(s) ListSong CQ, Huang B, Richards K, Ke LH, Phan VH
Journal nameWater Resources Research
Volume Number50
Issue Number4
Pages3170 - 3186
LanguagesEnglish-United Kingdom
Keywordsclimate change; glacier; lake; Tibetan Plateau; water level
Web of Science Subject CategoriesEnvironmental Sciences; ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; Environmental Sciences & Ecology; Limnology; LIMNOLOGY; Marine & Freshwater Biology; Water Resources; WATER RESOURCES

Last updated on 2021-15-06 at 00:11