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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-117
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-117
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  16 Jun 2020

16 Jun 2020

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A revised version of this preprint was accepted for the journal TC and is expected to appear here in due course.

Tracking the impacts of the Aru glacier collapses on downstream lakes

Yanbin Lei1,2, Tandong Yao1,2, Lide Tian2,3, Yongwei Sheng4, Lazhu5, Jingjuan Liao6, Huabiao Zhao1,2,9, Wei Yang1,2, Kun Yang2,7, Fanny Brun8, Yang Gao1,2, and Guangjian Wu1,2 Yanbin Lei et al.
  • 1Key Laboratory of Tibetan Environment Changes and Land Surface Processes, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
  • 2CAS Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth System, Beijing, 100101, China
  • 3Institute of International Rivers and Eco-security, Yunnan University, Kunming, China
  • 4Department of Geography, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), CA 90095–1524, USA
  • 5National Tibetan Plateau Data Center, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
  • 6Key Laboratory of Digital Earth Science, Institute of Remote Sensing & Digital Earth, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100094, China
  • 7Department of Earth System Science, Tsinghua University, Beijing 10084, China
  • 8LEGOS, CNES, CNRS, IRD, UPS, Université de Toulouse, Toulouse, France
  • 9Ngari Station for Desert Environment Observation and Research, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 100101, China

Abstract. Two giant glaciers at the Aru range, western Tibetan Plateau, collapsed suddenly on 17 July and 21 September 2016, respectively, causing fatal damage to local people and their livestock. The ice avalanches, with a total volume of 150 × 106 m3, had almost melted by September 2019. Based on in-situ observation, bathymetry survey and satellite data, here we show the impacts of the two glacier collapses on the downstream lakes, the outflow Aru Co and the terminal Memar Co, in terms of lake morphology, water level and water temperature in the subsequent four years (2016–2019). After the first glacier collapse, the ice avalanche slid into Aru Co along with a large amount of debris, which significantly modified the lake’s shoreline and bathymetry. Lake surface temperature (LST) at Aru Co and Memar Co exhibited a significant decrease of 2–4 oC in the first 1–2 weeks after the first glacier collapse due to the intruding ice into Aru Co and its melting. Memar Co significantly deepened by 12.5 m between 2000 and 2018, with accelerated lake level increase after the glacier collapses. Memar Co expanded rapidly at a rate of 0.80 m/yr between 2016 and 2019, which is about 30 % higher than the average rising rate between 2003 and 2014. The meltwater from ice avalanches was found to contribute to about 26.4 % of the increase in lake storage between 2016 and 2019. This study implies that the Aru glacier collapses had long-term and dramatic impacts on the downstream lakes.

Yanbin Lei et al.

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Yanbin Lei et al.

Yanbin Lei et al.

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Short summary
Two giant glaciers at the Aru range, western Tibetan Plateau, collapsed suddenly on 17 July and 21 September 2016, respectively, causing fatal damage to local people and their livestock. The ice avalanches, with a total volume of 150 × 106 m3, had almost melted by September 2019. In September 2016, two months after the first glacier collapse and one week after the second glacier collapse, we conducted a field campaign and installed instruments to monitor lake level changes at Aru Co and Memar Co.
Two giant glaciers at the Aru range, western Tibetan Plateau, collapsed suddenly on 17 July and...
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