Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2011, Vol. 66 ›› Issue (7): 895-904.doi: 10.11821/xb201107003

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Expansion of Glacial Lakes and Its Implication for Climate Changes in the Chinese Himalaya

WANG Xin1,2, LIU Shiyin2, MO Hongwei1, YAO Xiaojun2, JIANG Zongli1, GUOWanqin2   

  1. 1. Department of Geography, Hunan University of Science & Technology, Xiangtan 411201, Hunan, China;
    2. State Key Laboratory of Cryosphere Science, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, CAS, Lanzhou 730000, China
  • Received:2011-03-19 Revised:2011-05-22 Online:2011-07-20 Published:2011-07-20
  • Supported by:

    Knowledge Innovation Program, No.KZCX2-YW-Q03-04; National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.40801025; No.41071044; Open Fund for State Key Laboratory of Cryosphere Science, CAREERI, CAS, No.SKLCS 2010-05

Abstract: The Himalayas has drawn a wide attention in the context of the changing climate. The expansion of glacial lakes shows the variation of climate changes and is of importance to understand the risks of glacial lake outburst flood. On the basis of large scale topographical maps, DEMs, ASTER, images, glacial lake area variation against elevation and the changes of distance between glacial lake and its parent glacier were analyzed and the climatic implications were discussed in the Chinese Himalaya. The results show that, in the past 30 years, (1) the survived glacial lake expansion was a dominant contributor to the increase of glacial lake area, accounting for about 67%, and new formed lakes contributed to the rest 33% of area increment; (2) glacial lake area was averagely increasing in all 100-m-elevation bands where the largest growth occurred at elevations of 5000-5300 m, indicating a vertical variety of climate changes; (3) the more closer the glacial lake is to its parent glacier, the greater the area increasing rate of the glacial lakes, and among 15 types of glacial lake-glacier distance variation, 60% of net lake area increment was due to the lakes directly connected with parent glaciers in the 2000s in Chinese Himalaya.

Key words: Himalaya, expansion of glacial lake area, variation against altitude, implication for climate changes