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9 - Climate Warming Induced Frozen Soil Changes and the Corresponding Environmental Effect on the Tibetan Plateau

A Review

from Part II - Climate Risk to Human and Natural Systems

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 March 2022

Qiuhong Tang
Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing
Guoyong Leng
Oxford University Centre for the Environment
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Climate change caused by the increase in regional and global air temperature significantly affects the environment, especially in cold regions. The frozen ground degradation and its environmental consequence in the Tibetan region are reviewed. Model simulations show that air temperature in the Tibetan Plateau will continue to increase by 3.8–4.8°C at the end of this century. From 1981 to 2010, the duration of seasonally frozen ground was shortened, which delayed its start by 3.4 days and ended 9.4 days earlier than normal. The warming phenomenon resulted in degradation of frozen ground and permafrost by 3.3 105 km2 and 1.11 106 km2, respectively. From 2001 to 2015, soil erosion and desert area increased by 1.14 and 1.80 per cent, respectively. This resulted in a reduction of vegetation coverage. In addition, the influence of climate change on highway on the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau was also caused by frozen ground degradation, soil deformation and thawed settlement. With a large portion of frozen ground degradation in the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau, long-term field monitoring, remote sensing investigations, model predictions for temperature and frozen soil, and adaptations to environmental change are needed to mitigate the effects of more intense changes expected in the future.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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