Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2018-90
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2018-90

  30 May 2018

30 May 2018

Review status: this preprint was under review for the journal TC but the revision was not accepted.

Remote-sensing estimate of glacier mass balance over the central Nyainqentanglha Range during 1968 – ∼ 2013

Kunpeng Wu1,2, Shiyin Liu2,3, Zongli Jiang4, Junli Xu5, and Junfeng Wei4 Kunpeng Wu et al.
  • 1School of Resources and Environment, Anqing Normal University, Anqing, 246133, China
  • 2Institute of International Rivers and Eco-Security, Yunnan University, Kunming, 650091, China
  • 3State K ey Laboratory of Cryospheric Sciences, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, 730000, China
  • 4Department of Geography, Hunan University of Science and Technology, Xiangtan, 411201, China
  • 5Department of Surveying and Mapping, Yancheng Teachers University, Yancheng, 224007, China

Abstract. With high air temperatures and annual precipitation, maritime glaciers in southeastern Tibet are sensitive to climate change. Current glaciological knowledge of those in the central Nyainqentanglha Range is still limited because of their inaccessibility and low-quality data. To obtain information on changes in glacier area, length and mass balance, a comprehensive study was carried out based on topographic maps and Landsat TM/ETM+/OLI images (1968 and 2016), and on digital-elevation models (DEM) derived from the 1968 maps, from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) DEM (2000), and from TerraSAR-X/TanDEM-X (∼ 2013). This showed the area contained 715 glaciers, with an area of 1713.42 ± 51.82 km2, in 2016. Ice cover has been shrinking by 0.68 % ± 0.05% a−1 since 1968, although in the most recent decade this rate has slowed. The glacier area covered by debris accounted for 11.9 % of the total and decreased in SE-NW directions. Using DEM differencing and Differential Synthetic Aperture Radar Interferometry (DInSAR), a significant mass deficit of 0.46 ± 0.04 m w.e. a−1 has been recorded since 1968; mass losses accelerating from 0.42 ± 0.05 m w.e. a−1 to 0.60 ± 0.20 m w.e. a−1 during 1968–2000 and 2000–∼ 2013, with thinning noticeably greater on the debris-covered ice than the clean ice. Surface-elevation changes can be influenced by ice cliffs, as well as debris cover, and land- or lake-terminating glaciers and supraglacial lakes. Changes showed spatial and temporal heterogeneity and a substantial correlation with climate warming.

Kunpeng Wu et al.

Kunpeng Wu et al.

Kunpeng Wu et al.

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Short summary
This study presents diminishing ice cover in the central Nyainqentanglha Range by 0.68 % ± 0.05 % a−1, and a mean mass deficit of 0.46 % ± 0.04 m w.e. a−1 since 1968. Mass losses accelerating from 0.42 % ± 0.05 m w.e. a−1 to 0.60 % ± 0.20 m w.e. a−1 during 1968–2000 and 2000–~2013, with thinning noticeably greater on the debris-covered ice than the clean ice. Surface-elevation changes can be influenced by ice cliffs, as well as debris cover, and land- or lake-terminating glaciers and supraglacial lakes.