Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2019, Vol. 74 ›› Issue (3): 544-556.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201903011

• Climate Change and Surface Process • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Chinese glacial lake inventory based on 3S technology method

Chengde YANG1(), Xin WANG1(), Junfeng WEI1, Qionghuan LIU2, Anxin LU3, Yong ZHANG1, Zhiguang TANG1   

  1. 1. College of Resources, Environment and Safety Engineering, Hunan University of Science and Technology, Xiangtan 411201, Hunan, China
    2. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    3. Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, CAS, Beijing 100089, China
  • Received:2018-03-05 Revised:2018-12-15 Online:2019-03-25 Published:2019-03-19
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41771075, No.41571061, No.41271091;Fund of State Key Laboratory of Cryosphere Science, No.SKLCS-OP-2017-05


The glacial lake inventory of China based on the unified and standardized specifications with 3S (RS, GIS and GPS) technology has been finished for the first time. The overall distribution of glacial lakes of China in 2015 has been mapped on the basis of 159 landsat 8 OLI remote sensing images, the second Chinese glacier inventory data and Google Earth image data by manual visual interpretation method. The results show that there are 17300 glacial lakes in China at present with a total area of 1132.83±147.449 km2, and the glacier-fed lake accounted for about 74.6% of the total area of glacial lakes and 66.5% of the total number in China. Meanwhile, the spatial distribution of glacial lake appears significantly heterogeneous. There are a huge number of glacial lakes in the outflow basin, and the Ganges-Brahmaputra is the most densely distributed basin of glacial lakes in China, where survive 7898 glacial lakes with an area of about 622.42±75.55 km2, accounting for the total number of 45.7% and 54.9% of the country, respectively. Additionally, the glacial lakes in China cover an altitude of 2167-6247 m. The glacial lakes area distribution at different altitudes in each mountain range roughly presents in normal shape and the peak value appears in the altitude bands of about 5000-5500 m, accounting for 36.7% (975.06±128.83 km2) of the total area. As far as the glacial lake distribution in different mountain ranges was concerned, the glacial lakes in the Nyainqentanglha Mountains and the Himalayas are the most concentrated ones among 13 mountains of western China, accounting for about 28.3% and 26.4% of the total area in China, respectively.

Key words: glacial lake inventory, remote sensing data, specifications and methods, glacial lake distribution