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Glacier changes from 1966–2009 in the Gongga Mountains, on the south-eastern margin of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau and their climatic forcing  [PDF]
B. T. Pan,G. L. Zhang,J. Wang,B. Cao
The Cryosphere , 2012, DOI: 10.5194/tc-6-1087-2012
Abstract: In order to monitor the changes of the glaciers in the Gongga Mountain region on the south-eastern margin of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, 74 monsoonal temperate glaciers were investigated by comparing the Chinese Glacier Inventory (CGI), recorded in the 1960s, with Landsat MSS in 1974, Landsat TM in 1989, 1994, 2005, and ASTER data in 2009. The remote sensing data have been applied to map the glacier outline by threshold ratio images (TM4/TM5). Moreover, the glacier outlines were verified by GPS survey on four large glaciers (Hailuogou (HLG), Mozigou (MZG), Yanzigou (YZG), and Dagongba (DGB)) in 2009. The results show that the area dominated by the 74 glaciers has shrunk by 11.3% (29.2 km2) from 1966 to 2009. Glacier area on the eastern and western slopes of the Gongga Mountains decreased by 9.8% and 14.6% since 1966, respectively. The loss in glacier area and length is, respectively, 0.8 km2 and 1146.4 m for the HLG Glacier, 2.1 km2 and 501.8 m for the MZG Glacier, 0.8 km2 and 724.8 m for the YZG Glacier, and 2.4 km2 and 1002.3 m for the DGB Glacier. Decades of climate records obtained from three meteorological stations in the Gongga Mountains were analyzed to evaluate the impact of the temperature and precipitation on glacier retreat. The mean annual temperatures over the eastern and western slopes of the Gongga Mountains have been increasing by 0.34 K decade 1 and 0.24 K decade 1 (1988–2009), respectively. Moreover, mean annual precipitation has only increased by 1% in the past 50 yr. The increasing amount of precipitation could not compensate for the glacier mass loss due to the temperature increase in the Gongga Mountains. This suggests that the warming of the climate is probably also responsible for the glacier retreat in the study region. At the region scale, glacier changes were also controlled by local topographical factors.
Glacier changes from 1966–2009 in the Gongga Mountains, on the south-eastern margin of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau and their climatic forcing  [PDF]
B. Pan,G. Zhang,J. Wang,B. Cao
The Cryosphere Discussions , 2011, DOI: 10.5194/tcd-5-3479-2011
Abstract: In order to monitor the changes of the glaciers in the Gongga Mountain region on the south-eastern margin of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, 74 monsoonal temperate glaciers were investigated by comparing the Chinese Glacier Inventory (CGI), recorded in the 1960s, with Landsat MSS in 1974, Landsat TM in 1989, 1994, 2005, and ASTER data in 2009. The remote sensing data have been applied to map the glacier outline by threshold ratio images (TM4/TM5). Moreover, the glacier outlines were verified by GPS survey on four large glaciers (Hailuogou, Mozigou, Yanzigou, and Dagongba) in 2009. The results show that the area dominated by the 74 glaciers has shrunk by 11.3 % (29.2 km2) from 1966 to 2009. Glacier area on the eastern and western slope of the Gongga Mountains decreased by 14.1 km2 (5.5 % in 1966) and 15.1 km2 (5.9 % in 1966), respectively. The loss in glacier area and length is respectively 0.8 km2 and 1146.4 m (26.7 m yr 1) for the Hailuogou glacier, 2.1 km2 and 501.8 m (11.7 m yr 1) for the Mozigou Glacier, 0.8 km2 and 724.8 m (16.9 m yr 1) for the Yanzigou Glacier, and 2.4 km2 and 1002.3 m (23.3 m yr 1) for the Dagongba Glacier. Decades of climate records obtained from three meteorological stations in the Gongga Mountains were analyzed to evaluate the impact of the temperature and precipitation on glacier retreat. During 1966–2009, the mean annual temperature over the eastern and western slope of the Gongga Mountains has been increasing by 0.21 °C/10 yr and 0.13 °C/10 yr, respectively. Moreover, it was stable in the mean annual precipitation. This evidence indicates that the warming of the climate is probably responsible for the glacier retreat in the study region.
Forecasting temperate alpine glacier survival from accumulation zone observations  [PDF]
M. S. Pelto
The Cryosphere Discussions , 2009,
Abstract: For temperate alpine glaciers survival is dependent on the consistent presence of an accumulation zone. The lack of a consistent and persistent accumulation zone leads to substantial thinning of the glacier in the accumulation zone. Accumulation zone thinning is evident in satellite imagery or field observation based the emergence of new rock outcrops or the recession of the margin of the glacier in the accumulation zone along a substantial portion of its perimeter. In either case the accumulation zone is no longer functioning as an accumulation zone and survival is unlikely. In both the North Cascades and Wind River Range nine of the fifteen glaciers examined are forecast not to survive the current climate or future additional warming. The results vary considerably with adjacent glaciers having a different survival forecast. This emphasizes the danger of extrapolating survival from one glacier to the next. This trait also emphasizes the value of a simple forecasting tool that can be applied to all glaciers. The automated remote sensing based glacier classification schemes developed offer the potential for automating this process based on the changes in the glacier outline.
Forecasting temperate alpine glacier survival from accumulation zone observations  [PDF]
M. S. Pelto
The Cryosphere , 2010,
Abstract: Temperate alpine glacier survival is dependent on the consistent presence of an accumulation zone. Frequent low accumulation area ratio values, below 30%, indicate the lack of a consistent accumulation zone, which leads to substantial thinning of the glacier in the accumulation zone. This thinning is often evident from substantial marginal recession, emergence of new rock outcrops and surface elevation decline in the accumulation zone. In the North Cascades 9 of the 12 examined glaciers exhibit characteristics of substantial accumulation zone thinning; marginal recession or emergent bedrock areas in the accumulation zone. The longitudinal profile thinning factor, f, which is a measure of the ratio of thinning in the accumulation zone to that at the terminus, is above 0.6 for all glaciers exhibiting accumulation zone thinning characteristics. The ratio of accumulation zone thinning to cumulative mass balance is above 0.5 for glacier experiencing substantial accumulation zone thinning. Without a consistent accumulation zone these glaciers are forecast not to survive the current climate or future additional warming. The results vary considerably with adjacent glaciers having a different survival forecast. This emphasizes the danger of extrapolating survival from one glacier to the next.
The footprint of Asian monsoon dynamics in the mass and energy balance of a Tibetan glacier  [PDF]
T. M?lg,F. Maussion,W. Yang,D. Scherer
The Cryosphere , 2012, DOI: 10.5194/tc-6-1445-2012
Abstract: Determinations of glacier-wide mass and energy balance are still scarce for the remote mountains of the Tibetan Plateau, where field measurements are challenging. Here we run and evaluate a physical, distributed mass balance model for Zhadang Glacier (central Tibet, 30° N) based on in-situ measurements over 2009–2011 and an uncertainty estimate by Monte Carlo and ensemble strategies. The model application aims to provide the first quantification of how the Indian Summer Monsoon (ISM) impacts an entire glacier over the various stages of the monsoon's annual cycle. We find a strong and systematic ISM footprint on the interannual scale. Early (late) monsoon onset causes higher (lower) accumulation, and reduces (increases) the available energy for ablation primarily through changes in absorbed shortwave radiation. By contrast, only a weak footprint exists in the ISM cessation phase. Most striking though is the core monsoon season: local mass and energy balance variability is fully decoupled from the active/break cycle that defines large-scale atmospheric variability during the ISM. Our results demonstrate quantitatively that monsoon onset strongly affects the ablation season of glaciers in Tibet. However, we find no direct ISM impact on the glacier in the main monsoon season, which has not been acknowledged so far. This result also adds cryospheric evidence that, once the monsoon is in full swing, regional atmospheric variability prevails on the Tibetan Plateau in summer.
The footprint of Asian monsoon dynamics in the mass and energy balance of a Tibetan glacier  [PDF]
T. M?lg,F. Maussion,W. Yang,D. Scherer
The Cryosphere Discussions , 2012, DOI: 10.5194/tcd-6-3243-2012
Abstract: Determinations of glacier-wide mass and energy balance are still scarce for the remote mountains of the Tibetan Plateau, where field measurements are challenging. Here we run and evaluate a physical, distributed mass balance model for Zhadang glacier (central Tibet, 30° N), based on in-situ measurements over 2009–2011 and an uncertainty estimate by Monte Carlo and ensemble strategies. The model application aims to provide the first quantification of how the Indian Summer Monsoon (ISM) impacts an entire glacier over the various stages of the monsoon's annual cycle. We find a strong and systematic ISM footprint on the interannual scale. Early (late) monsoon onset causes higher (lower) accumulation, and reduces (increases) the available energy for ablation primarily through changes in absorbed shortwave radiation. By contrast, only a weak footprint exists in the ISM cessation phase. Most striking though is the core monsoon season: local mass and energy balance variability is fully decoupled from the active/break cycle that defines large-scale atmospheric variability during the ISM. Our results demonstrate quantitatively that monsoon onset strongly affects the ablation season of glaciers in Tibet. However, we find no direct ISM impact on the glacier in the main monsoon season, which has not been acknowledged so far. This result also adds cryospheric evidence that regional modification of the large-scale monsoon flow prevails on the Tibetan Plateau in summer.
Numerical simulations of Gurenhekou Glacier on the Tibetan Plateau using a full-Stokes ice dynamical model  [PDF]
L. Zhao,L. Tian,T. Zwinger,R. Ding
The Cryosphere Discussions , 2013, DOI: 10.5194/tcd-7-145-2013
Abstract: We investigate the impact of climate change on a small Tibetan glacier that is representative of the tens of thousands of mountain glaciers in the region. We apply a three-dimensional, thermo-mechanically coupled full-Stokes model to Gurenhekou Glacier located in the southern Tibetan Plateau. The steep and rugged geometry requires use of such a flow model to simulate the dynamical evolution of the glacier. We parameterize the temperature and mass balance using nearby automatic weather stations and an energy balance model for another glacier in the same mountain range. Summer air temperature increased at 0.02 K a 1 over the past 50 yr, and the glacier has retreated at an average rate of 8.3 m a 1. Prognostic simulations suggest an accelerated retreating rate up to 14 m a 1 for the next 50 yr under continued steady warming, which is consistent with observed increased retreat in the last decade. However, regional climate models suggest a marked increase in warming rate over Tibet during the 21st century, and this rate causes about a 1% per year loss of glaciated area and glacier volume. These changes imply that this small glacier will probably disappear in a century. Although Tibetan glaciers are not particularly sensitive to climate warming, the rather high warming rates predicted by regional climate models combined with the small sizes of most Tibetan glaciers suggest that significant numbers of glaciers will be lost in the region during the 21st century.
Elemental composition of aerosols collected in the glacier area on Nyainqêntanglha Range, Tibetan Plateau, during summer monsoon season
ChaoLiu Li,ShiChang Kang,ZhiYuan Cong
Chinese Science Bulletin , 2007, DOI: 10.1007/s11434-007-0445-0
Abstract: In order to investigate the elemental composition in atmospheric aerosols and its sources in the glacier area over the Tibetan Plateau (TP), seven totally suspended particle samples were collected continuously at the col of the Zhadang glacier (30°28′N, 90°39′E, 5800 m a.s.l.), Nyainqêntanglha Range, southern TP, from June to October 2006. Twenty-seven elements (Li, Be, B, Na, Mg, Al, K, Ca, Sc, Ti, V, Fe, Mn, Zn, Ga, As, Rb, Sr, Y, Cd, Cs, Ba, Tl, Pb, Bi, Th, U) were analyzed by Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS). The result indicates that the concentrations of most elements (especially crustal elements) are lower than values at the Nam Co Station during the same period of 2005, and also much lower than other sites in the TP such as Wudaoliang and Waliguan. This suggests that elemental compositions of aerosols in the Zhadang glacier area may represent the background levels of the middle/upper troposphere over the TP. Crustal enrichment factors (EFs) reveal that several elements (e.g. B, Zn, As, Cd, Pb and Bi) may have anthropogenic sources. The southern TP is mainly influenced by the summer Indian monsoon during the sampling period. Backward air mass trajectory analysis suggests that air masses in the region may originate from South Asia. Therefore, anthropogenic pollutants from South Asia may be transported by the summer Indian monsoon to the region which clearly affects the atmospheric environment in the southern TP during the summer monsoon season.
A glacier inventory for the western Nyainqentanglha Range and the Nam Co Basin, Tibet, and glacier changes 1976–2009  [PDF]
T. Bolch,T. Yao,S. Kang,M. F. Buchroithner
The Cryosphere , 2010, DOI: 10.5194/tc-4-419-2010
Abstract: The western Nyainqentanglha Range is located in the south-eastern centre of the Tibetan Plateau. Its north-western slopes drain into Lake Nam Co. The region is of special interest for glacio-climatological research as it is influenced by both the continental climate of Central Asia and the Indian Monsoon system, and situated at the transition zone between temperate and subcontinental glaciers. A glacier inventory for the whole mountain range was generated for the year around 2001 using automated remote sensing and GIS techniques based on Landsat ETM+ and SRTM3 DEM data. Glacier change analysis was based on data from Hexagon KH-9 and Landsat MSS (both 1976), Metric Camera (1984), and Landsat TM/ETM+ (1991, 2001, 2005, 2009). Manual adjustment was especially necessary for delineating the debris-covered glaciers and the glaciers on the panchromatic Hexagon data. In the years around 2001 the whole mountain range contained about 960 glaciers covering an area of 795.6 ± 22.3 km2 while the ice in the drainage basin of Nam Co covered 198.1 ± 5.6 km2. The median elevation of the glaciers was about 5800 m with the majority terminating around 5600 m. Five glaciers with debris-covered tongues terminated lower than 5200 m. The glacier area decreased by 6.1 ± 3% between 1976 and 2001. This is less than reported in previous studies based on the 1970s topographic maps and Landsat data from 2000. Glaciers continued to shrink during the period 2001–2009. No advancing glaciers were detected. Detailed length measurements for five glaciers indicated a retreat of around 10 m per year (1976–2009). Ice cover is higher south-east of the mountain ridge which reflects the windward direction to the monsoon. The temperature increase during the ablation period was probably the main driver of glacier wastage, but the complex glacier-climate interactions need further investigation.
Response of "Glacier-Runoff" system in a typical monsoonal temperate glacier region, Hailuogou Basin in Mt. Gongga of China, to global warming  [PDF]
Zongxing Li,Yuanqing He,Xiaomei Yang,Xianzhong He
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions , 2007,
Abstract: The method of correlation analysis and trend analysis were used in this research in order to confirm the response of "glacier-runoff" system to global warming. Hailuogou glacier had retreated by 1871.8 m over the past 76 years, Hailuogou No. 2 glacier had also retreated by 1100 m. Glaciers retreats are contrary to the climatic warming trend in China and the Northern Hemisphere. Glaciers in Hailuogou basin were in the loss with a fluctuating manner since 1950s, and accumulative value of mass balance is 10 825.5 mm water equivalent with an annual mean value of 240.6 mm. The inverse correlation is highly significant between mass balance variation and climatic fluctuation of China and the Northern Hemisphere after 1950s. Glacier ablation is intensive with a ratio of 7.86 m yr 1. A steady rise tendency toward glaciers runoff has been observed since 1980s, and the runoff rise is mainly responsible for melt water in Hailuogou basin. It is noticeable that climatic warming not only strengthened ablation extent and enlarged ablation area, but also prolonged ablation period. Global warming is the main cause of glacier retreat, mass loss and runoff rise in Hailuogou basin.
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