A survey of July 1st glacier, Qilian Shan, China, was carried out in 2002. Previously, the glacier’s boundary had been recorded in 1956, and further research had been carried out in the mid- 1970s and 1980s. Our survey reveals that area shrinkage and surface lowering have accelerated in the past 15 years. Surface elevation changes can result from changes in accumulation, surface melting and emergence velocity. The contributions of these elements to surface lowering are evaluated at the lower part of the glacier from observations of surface velocity, ice thickness and precipitation, and from temperature data near the glacier. Apart from the effect of glacier ice redistribution, our analysis reveals quantitatively that the recent accelerated glacier shrinkage has been caused by increasing temperature. Furthermore, it is established that meltwater discharge from the glacier in the past 17 years has increased due to glacier shrinkage, by about 50% over that from 1975 to 1985.