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Glacier mass balance over the central Nyainqentanglha Range during recent decades derived from remote-sensing data

  • KUNPENG WU (a1) (a2) (a3), SHIYIN LIU (a2) (a3), ZONGLI JIANG (a4), JUNLI XU (a5) and JUNFENG WEI (a4)...


To obtain information on changes in glacier mass balance in the central Nyainqentanglha Range, a comprehensive study was carried out based on digital-elevation models derived from the 1968 topographic maps, the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission DEM (2000) and TerraSAR-X/TanDEM-X (2013). Glacier area changes between 1968 and 2016 were derived from topographic maps and Landsat OLI images. This showed the area contained 715 glaciers, with an area of 1713.42 ± 51.82 km2, in 2016. Ice cover has been shrinking by 0.68 ± 0.05% a−1 since 1968. The glacier area covered by debris accounted for 11.9% of the total and decreased in the SE–NW directions. Using digital elevation model differencing and differential synthetic aperture radar interferometry, a significant mass loss of 0.46 ± 0.10 m w.e. a−1 has been recorded since 1968; mass losses accelerated from 0.42 ± 0.20 m w.e. a−1 to 0.60 ± 0.20 m w.e. a−1 between 1968–2000 and 2000–2013, with thinning noticeably greater on the debris-covered ice than the clean ice. Surface-elevation changes can be influenced by ice cliffs, as well as debris cover and land- or lake-terminating glaciers. Changes showed spatial and temporal heterogeneity and a substantial correlation with climate warming and decreased precipitation.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Correspondence: Kunpeng Wu <>; Shiyin Liu <>


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These authors contributed equally to this work and should be considered co-first authors.



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Glacier mass balance over the central Nyainqentanglha Range during recent decades derived from remote-sensing data

  • KUNPENG WU (a1) (a2) (a3), SHIYIN LIU (a2) (a3), ZONGLI JIANG (a4), JUNLI XU (a5) and JUNFENG WEI (a4)...


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