Articles | Volume 7, issue 1
The Cryosphere, 7, 287–301, 2013
The Cryosphere, 7, 287–301, 2013

Research article 15 Feb 2013

Research article | 15 Feb 2013

Analysis of ice phenology of lakes on the Tibetan Plateau from MODIS data

J. Kropáček1,2, F. Maussion3, F. Chen4, S. Hoerz2, and V. Hochschild2 J. Kropáček et al.
  • 1Institute for Cartography, Dresden University of Technology, Helmholzstr. 10, 01069 Dresden, Germany
  • 2Department of Geography, University of Tuebingen, Ruemelinstr. 19–23, 72070 Tuebingen, Germany
  • 3Institut für Ökologie, Technische Universität Berlin, Rothenburgstr. 12, 12165 Berlin, Germany
  • 4Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research (ITP), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), 18 Shuangqing Rd., Beijing 100085, China

Abstract. The Tibetan Plateau includes a large system of endorheic (closed basin) lakes. Lake ice phenology, i.e. the timing of freeze-up and break-up and the duration of the ice cover may provide valuable information about climate variations in this region. The ice phenology of 59 large lakes on the Tibetan Plateau was derived from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) 8-day composite data for the period from 2001 to 2010. Ice cover duration appears to have a high variability in the studied region due to both climatic and local factors. Mean values for the duration of ice cover were calculated for three groups of lakes defined by clustering, resulting in relatively compact geographic regions. In each group several lakes showed anomalies in ice cover duration in the studied period. Possible reasons for such anomalous behaviour are discussed. Furthermore, many lakes do not freeze up completely during some seasons. This was confirmed by inspection of high resolution optical data. Mild winter seasons, large water volume and/or high salinity are the most likely explanations. Trends in the ice cover duration derived by linear regression for all the studied lakes show a high variation in space. A correlation of ice phenology variables with parameters describing climatic and local conditions showed a high thermal dependency of the ice regime. It appears that the freeze-up tends to be more thermally determined than break-up for the studied lakes.