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Glacier changes during the past century in the Gangrigabu mountains, southeast Qinghai–Xizang (Tibetan) Plateau, China

  • Shiyin Liu (a1) (a2), Donghui Shangguan (a1), Yongjian Ding (a1), Haidong Han (a1), Changwei Xie (a1), Yong Zhang (a1), Jing Li (a1), Jian Wang (a1) and Gang Li (a1)...

Abstract

The present research focuses on glacier changes in the southeast of the Qinghai–Xizang (Tibetan) Plateau, where most of the temperate glaciers in China are located. Our results show that the 102 measured glaciers in the region have all retreated between 1915 and 1980, with total area and volume decreases of 47.9 km2 and 6.95 km3, respectively. The extrapolated mass loss of all glaciers in the Gangrigabu mountains amounted to 27 km3, 9.8% of the ice mass in 1915. Between 1980 and 2001, glaciers in the region have also experienced a general retreat; however, up to 40% of the glaciers were advancing. Our analysis demonstrates that precipitation in the studied area has increased substantially since the mid-1980s. This precipitation increase is likely to bring about a positive mass balance for glaciers in the region, so that the retreat of retreating glaciers might slow down or even turn into advance. Considering the sensitivity of the temperate glaciers in the region and the uncertainty in climate projections, more attention must be paid to glacier changes in the southeast Tibetan Plateau region.

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